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Child Support

North Carolina child support obligations can be extremely complex, overwhelming, and often changing. Yet failure to make child support payments can result in you being held in contempt of court, or even a warrant being issued for your arrest. If you want to be sure that your obligations are fair and handled properly, you may need the help of an experienced attorney who can guide you through this process.

The North Carolina Child Support Guidelines help determine child support obligations based on a number of factors such as the father’s income, the mother’s income, the cost of child care expenses and the cost of healthcare for the child. Courts may further consider other parental financial resources such as bonuses, inheritances, rental property income, investments, pensions, disability, social security, veteran benefits, unemployment benefits, and even services provided by family members or friends.

Whether you are struggling to make ends meet, have a yearly household income of greater than $200,000 or fall somewhere in between, do not hesitate to contact Arnold & Smith where an experienced and knowledgeable attorney will fight for a just and reasonable child support arrangement on your behalf.

Enforcement

In 1975, Congress added Title IV-D to the Social Security Act establishing a nationwide Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program. North Carolina implemented the CSE under N.C. General Statutes §§ 110-128 through 110-142.2. Among other things, the program establishes extensive means for enforcing and obtaining child support payments.

The process begins with family court entering an order requiring a party to make payments in support of the child. The court may calculate the amount based on the aforementioned considerations, or based on an agreement between the parties. Often the calculation will be enforced as part of a divorce judgment, or if the parents were never married, a custodial parent can petition for child support.

Courts do not take failure to make child support payments lightly. Parents owing child support who refuse to pay, are unable to pay, pay less than is required, or make untimely payments are subject to contempt proceedings, fines, or even jail time. Contempt proceedings are the most common venue for enforcing payments and can result in a parent serving time in jail until he or she has satisfied the outstanding balance. Otherwise, the court may resort to wage garnishments—the process by which a portion of a delinquent parent’s paycheck is withheld and paid as child support. Under federal law, all employers take part in a national registrar, allowing an easy avenue for the courts to access and withhold from a parent’s paycheck, even across state lines. Furthermore, under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, whichever court issued the initial child support order continues to exercise complete and exclusive jurisdiction over the parents. Thus, even if a parent moves, the only court able to modify or enforce the judgment is the court that originally issued the child support obligation. Lastly, a number of federal laws, such as the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act or the Child Support Recovery Act, criminalize parents who refuse to pay obligations. Violations result in severe federal penalties in the form of fines or incarceration.

Modifications

The child support obligation requirements might be temporary or permanent, but often change based on the circumstances of the parents and children. For example, either parent, whether receiving or paying child support, can petition the court for a modification based upon a change in circumstances regarding either parent’s ability to pay or the child’s financial needs. Changes in employment, remarriage, illnesses, education, and cost of living are all common reasons for altering child support obligations. Regardless, the change must be considered significant and material in order for the court to consider any adjustments.

Changes in employment and remarriage are the most common reasons why parents seek modifications of child support. Although a parent obligated to make payments may be temporarily relieved in the event of losing his or her job, merely taking a lower paying job will not necessarily cause the court to make any adjustments. On the other hand, if a parent receives a raise, bonus, or takes a new job with a higher salary, the court has the ability to increase the payment the parent must make. Alternatively, if a party remarries, a court may consider the combined salary of the spouses and any additional children for whom the payee is financially responsible when determining whether to modify the child support obligation.

Contact our Office Today

The law’s stern approach to child support assures that the stakes are high when it comes to the care of a child. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your obligations and the adequate care of your child, do not hesitate to contact an experienced attorney at Arnold & Smith today.

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