The Law offices of Arnold & Smith - John Price Carr House
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Child Support in Iredell County

When a couple goes through a divorce, there are many issues that they need to be resolved. When you have children, there are even more decisions and the situation can become quite emotional for everyone concerned. As parents, you and your spouse need to work together to agree to the settlement terms of the divorce. In North Carolina, parents are generally allowed to have a shared parenting arrangement. This means that both parents are able to make important decisions for their children and both get to spend time with them.

However, even though parents share parenting responsibilities, the children will generally reside primarily with one parent. This parent is the primary residential or custodial parent, while the other parent will have regular visitation. The non-custodial parent is usually required to pay child support. It is helpful to speak with an experienced family law attorney to discuss the details of each unique situation.

What About Unmarried Parents?

The situation in which parents are unmarried is a common one. The custodial parent, typically the mother, must file a petition for child support with family court. In order for a child support order to be made, paternity must be established. This can be done through mutual consent or through DNA testing. Once paternity has been established, the court will proceed with a support order in a similar way to that used during divorce proceedings. The judge will issue a child support order that becomes a legal requirement.

How is Child Support Determined?

Many factors are used to determine child support. These include such things as the income of both parents, the cost of childcare, and the costs of healthcare for the children. In addition, the court may also look further into the finances of the parents to consider the financial resources of each parent, additional income such as bonuses, inheritance, disability, investments, pensions, unemployment, and more.

Even those with a minimal income are expected to provide child support for their children. The court calculates the amount of child support based on all of the aforementioned factors as well as the number of children. The court will include child support payments as part of the divorce order. This means that payments are required, and enforcement action could be taken if a parent fails to make them.

How is Child Support Enforced?

Once a child support order is in place, it can be enforced. North Carolina participates in the Child Support Enforcement Program (CSE). This nationwide program was established to provide a way for parents to obtain child support payments and enforce child support orders. When a parent fails to pay child support or gets behind on payments, action can be taken through the court system.

The delinquent parent may face fines, contempt charges, or even jail time. The court will generally issue a contempt charge for enforcement of unpaid child support. The parent may have his or her wages garnished, or tax refund held for delinquent child support payments. Wage garnishment means that the court will automatically receive child support payments from the parent’s employer before each check is issued.

Parents cannot easily escape paying court-ordered child support. However, sometimes it can be difficult to locate a parent or try to get the parent to pay the back payments. If you face a situation such as this, it is best to consult with a family law attorney as soon as possible.

Can a Child Support Order be Modified?

Child support is calculated at the time of the divorce. One or both parents’ income may change over time. In some instances, one or the other parent may want or need to make a change to the child support order. A child support order can be modified, but only through proper legal procedures by filing a request with family court.

You may request a modification only for valid reasons. For example, a parent may have lost his job and now has less income. The parent may want to reduce the amount of child support that he or she pays if that parent cannot make the payments. On the other hand, the custodial parent may find that the other parent has had a substantial increase in income, yet still pays the original amount of support.

If the reasons for the modification are sound, the court will allow a hearing. Both parents and their attorneys are present at the hearing to provide evidence and testimony to the judge. The judge will review the information and make a decision on the request for modification. Your attorney will be instrumental in helping guide you through this process.

Child support issues can be complicated. At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, we understand child support in Iredell County and other areas. Our team is experienced in working with parents and assisting in resolving matters of child support. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC to discuss your needs today.