Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “What children’s expenses are covered by child support?”
In most cases, a child support obligation accounts for a large percentage of the supporting parent’s income. However, when circumstances change over time, the supporting parent may be able to petition the court to reduce their child support payments. Involuntary loss of employment or decrease in income may qualify as a “substantial change in circumstances” to lower a child support obligation in North Carolina.
The North Carolina General Statute § 50-13.7 provides that an existing child support order may be modified when the petitioner is able to prove a substantial change in circumstances. The petitioner must comply with many other procedural requirements, which is why it is advised to be represented by a child support attorney when requesting a modification.
What Counts as Substantial Change in Circumstances?
You may be able to lower your child support payments in North Carolina if you can demonstrate evidence of any substantial changes in circumstances:
Loss of Employment
If you can no longer make child support payments because you were fired, you may be able to request a modification to lower your child support obligation. However, to be able to modify child support due to your firing, you will have to prove that the loss of employment was beyond your control.
In other words, you must prove that the loss of employment was involuntary and that the reduction in income was in good faith. Also, the supporting parent may be required to show proof that they have made reasonable efforts to find a new job.
Involuntary Decrease in Income
You may be able to request a modification of an existing child support order if a substantial decrease in income has occurred.
A 15% Difference for Child Support Orders Over Three Years Old
You could also lower your obligation if your child support order is more than three years and there is at least a 15% difference between the amount of the existing obligation and the amount you would owe if the amount was re-calculated using your current income.
A Significant Decrease in the Needs of the Child
A court may also warrant a child support modification if there has been a significant decrease in the expenses for the child, including but not limited to educational and travel expenses. The party requesting a modification has the burden of proof to establish a significant decrease in the needs of the child.
When You May Not be Able to Reduce Your Child Support Obligation
There are also situations when you may not be able to reduce your child support payments in North Carolina. Your request to modify child support is likely to be dismissed in any of the following situations:
- A voluntary decrease in the income of the supporting parent;
- A voluntary loss of employment by the supporting parent; or
- The supporting parent has to spend more money on children other than the child who benefits from the existing child support order.
Schedule a consultation with our child support lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to determine how you can lower your child support obligation in North Carolina. Get a phone or video consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.
The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.
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