A common question our office receives is whether or not a client can modify his or her child support payment. Oftentimes, the question arises when clients have experienced a reduction in income or a change in custody. If you have been ordered by the court to pay child support, it’s possible to modify your child support so that your payment is reduced.
A very important fact to remember is that child support payments do not change automatically. If you lose your job, have a substantial change in income, or have a change in custody, you MUST file a motion to modify. For example, if you child support payment is based on an income of $100,000/year and you lose your job, your obligation does not change until you go to court. Your arrears will keep adding up unless you take action.
What is required to modify your child support in North Carolina?
1. Motion to Modify Child Support: In order for a court to modify a permanent child support order, a motion to modify must be filed. It’s important to file the motion as soon as possible. If the court decides to modify your payment amount, it will relate back to the date you filed the motion but not before. For example, say you are laid off from work on January 1st. However, you do not file your motion to modify child support until March 1st. At your court hearing in September, the Judge decides to reduce your monthly child support obligation. However, the payment will only be reduced as of March 1st, not January 1st when your income was first reduced.
2. Substantial Change in Circumstances: A North Carolina court will not modify permanent child support unless it is shown that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred since the date of the last order.
3. Income Reduction: If you have voluntarily reduced your income, unless there are more facts to bolster your case, it isn’t likely a court will find that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred. However, if your income was involuntarily reduced and it was a substantial reduction, the court may find that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred. Lastly, it is presumed that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred if the motion is filed at least three years after the date of the last order and there is at least a 15% increase or decrease in the amount of child support under the present order and the amount the child support payment would be given the parents’ current income and circumstances.
4. Change in Custody: Has there recently been a change in custody? Are you now the primary physical custodian? You may be able to modify child support based on the change. Are you seeking to modify custody to receive extra custodial time? Make sure to file a motion to modify child support as well. If there is a change in custody, the court will not automatically change the child support amount as well.
There are other situations that may warrant a modification but these are the two most common reasons we see. If you would like to have your child support payment modified, contact our office today to speak with an experienced Raleigh child support attorney. Don’t sleep on your rights with regards to child support if your circumstances have changed. While you’re sleeping, rest assured the arrears will keep piling up.
- NC Child Support Guidelines
- NC Child Support Calculator (Worksheet A/Primary Custody)
- NC Child Support Calculator (Worksheet B/Joint Custody)
- NC Child Support Calculator (Worksheet C/Split Custody)