Common Issues With Child Support in North Carolina

Child support is one of the most important issues related to divorces in North Carolina, and it is also one of the most contentious. There are many different arguments that may arise over child support, and it is not always as simple as how much money one spouse should be forced to pay. One might argue that child support should be a relatively straightforward issue to resolve. After all, what kind of parent would argue against supporting their own children financially? However, it is important to understand that it is not always so black and white. The exact details of child support orders can become quite complex, and these complexities are where countless conflicts can arise.

If you are dealing with a high-conflict child support legal battle, it makes sense to rely on a qualified, experienced legal professional to guide you. With the right attorney at your side, even the most complex issues become relatively easy to resolve.

What to Include in Your Separation Agreement

Many spouses disagree over what to include in the separation agreement. A separation agreement is a legal document that goes over virtually every aspect of a divorce. When spouses agree on these details, they can avoid a lengthy, expensive court process. It goes without saying that this is the method of choice for most divorcing spouses in North Carolina.

However, it is not always easy to agree on key issues when drafting these separation agreements. Spouses may disagree on the actual amount of child support that should be paid, and they might also disagree on what specific costs should be covered by the paying spouse.

For example, college tuition is not a recognized expense for child support payments in North Carolina. A spouse cannot be forced to pay for a child’s college expenses through their child support payments. However, spouses can agree to include tuition in their separation agreement, which will then be an enforceable legal document. This is one of the many issues related to child support that spouses may disagree upon when drafting separation agreements. If spouses cannot agree on an issue like this, it might result in the breakdown of the entire negotiation process, as spouses refuse to cooperate on other issues, like alimony or child custody.

Imputed Income

Another potential sticking point involves imputed income. It is necessary to impute a spouse’s income when it is not exactly clear how much money they are earning. Perhaps they have stopped working voluntarily. Maybe they decided to retire early. Some spouses intentionally defer bonuses and promotions, hoping to have their child support payments calculated based on a lower income.

If it is obvious that a spouse is earning much less than they are capable of, a judge may impute their income. This means that they will assign them a theoretical income based on their earning potential. This is hardly an exact science, and it can lead to significant disputes. In some cases, spouses may be legitimately struggling to find work, and yet they are still required to pay child support payments based on a higher imputed income.

Late Payments

Another very obvious issue is the fact that many spouses can fall behind on their child support payments. Some fall so far behind that it is impossible to catch up. This is something that courts in North Carolina try to avoid as much as possible, but sometimes judges order spouses to pay child support payments that become financially ruinous. In other situations, spouses are intentionally refusing to make their payments, despite having the financial means to do so.

Issues With the Child Support System in North Carolina

Critics have pointed out several flaws in North Carolina’s child support system. These observers point out that the system is still weighed heavily in favor of female spouses. The child support system was created at a time when women were most likely to be stay-at-home moms, and men were most likely to be the main breadwinners. However, the world has changed considerably since this period, and women make up a roughly equal percentage of America’s workforce today. Critics argue that in some situations, child support may dissuade women from pursuing a higher level of income, and in some cases, it can dissuade them from getting a job altogether.

Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today

If you have been searching the North Carolina area for a qualified, experienced attorney, look no further than Arnold Smith, PLLC. We have plenty of experience with divorces that involve considerable conflicts. If you and your spouse cannot agree on matters related to child support, we can help you figure out a solution. When your child’s well-being is on the line, it makes sense to approach the situation with great care. On the other hand, your own financial well-being is also important. Reach out today, book your consultation, and we can help you approach this situation with confidence and efficiency.