Child support is a topic we get a lot of questions on!  Here are the answers to five of the most common questions we are asked.

1. What is a child support order in NC?

Child support is a meant to meet the reasonable needs of the child’s health, education and maintenance.  A child support order is a court order that issued by a judge.  Sometimes parents come to an agreement without a trial and that is typically referred to as a consent order.

The child support order establishes who must pay child support, and how much each parent should pay for other expenses such as: health insurance, medical co-pays, extra-curricular activities, and daycare/childcare expenses.

2. How is child support determined?

In North Carolina, child support calculations are made by a formula that our courts hav adopted.  This formula was recently changed in 2019, so it is important to establish what period of time you are seeking support for before using a specific worksheet.  These formulas are put onto child support worksheets and they consider a variety factors including but not limited to:

  • Monthly income of the parents
  • The number of overnights the child spends with each parent
  • Whether a parent has a pre-existing child support order for another child
  • Child-care costs
  • Health insurance costs

3. Do I need to file for custody or divorce to get child support?

No. You can get a child support order even if there isn’t a divorce or custody order in place. This does not mean you cannot come to an agreement outside of court, but enforcing a court order can sometimes be easier than enforcing a contract.

Should you decide you do not want a court order, an experienced family law attorney can help you negotiate with your spouse to figure out a child support amount to put in your separation agreement.

4. Can I change my child support order?

If you experience some changes like job loss or something that causes an inability to pay the support amount, you may be able to ask the court to modify the child support order. In cases such as disability that causes an inability to work, you are likely entitled to a reduction in the amount of child support you have to pay.

Not every change in income allows a modification of a child support order, so you should contact your family law attorney to see if your circumstances would allow it.

If you have a court order it is important to file for any changes immediately (including if one of your children turns 18 and graduates from high school), as the court cannot amend your order prior to the date of your filing.  Read more about child support terminating and being modified here.

5. When does child support terminate?

Generally, parents paying child support are no longer obligated to support a child once they turn 18. If the child reaches age 18 and is still in high school the support will continue until the child graduates or reaches 20 years old, whichever comes first.

Also, if the child is emancipated, child support payments shall terminate at the time of the emancipation.

If you have more questions about child support, contact our Raleigh divorce lawyer today and schedule a consult.

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