Can a NC Child Support Order Be Modified?

Written by Jonathan Breeden

March 22, 2019

If you’re a divorced parent or you were part of a paternity case, you may now be living under the terms of a child support order. Child support orders are legally-binding decrees from a family court that spell out when, how, and the amount of support that must be paid to help with the expenses of raising a child.

Sometimes these orders remain unchanged until the minor reaches 18 years of age and graduates from high school (or up to 20 years old if the child remains in school working toward a high school diploma).In other cases, however, circumstances may exist that warrant modifying child support, and North Carolina law provides for those situations when they arise. Reasons to seek modification can vary, but might include significant changes in parental income, changes in custody, or perhaps in the child’s needs.

Should you believe your order needs to be changed, you should reach out to an NC child support lawyer at Breeden Law Office. To schedule a consultation of your case, contact us today at (919) 661-4970.

Requirements to Review a Child Support Order

Under North Carolina law, permanent child support orders may be reviewed if two factors are present:

  • The order pertains to at least one child less than 18-years-old
  • It has been at least three years since the order was entered or modified

If those factors are met in your case, attorney Jonathan Breeden will walk you through the Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligation to determine what, if any, change is necessary. If the two factors above are not present, the key issue will be if you, as the parent seeking the change, have evidence of a 15 percent or more difference from the current child support amount using your and the other parent’s current gross income and/or expenses on behalf of the minor child to include health insurance and child care costs. So, if you lost your job and your new position pays much less, you may seek an order lowering your child support obligation. The reverse is true as well. You may pay more if your income has increased by more than 15 percent.

But what if you believe a modification is warranted, and it has been less than three years since the order? The court can still review your request if there has been a “change in circumstances” for you or your child’s other parent. These changes include physical custody, your child’s needs, or in parental income. Modification could be warranted if your child has taken up an expensive hobby or sport or needs braces.

What’s Next?

When you’re considering a modification of your child support order, there are a few things to consider:

  • Keep good records. Be sure to document why you want the modification, because the party seeking the change bears the burden of proving why it is necessary.
  • Continue paying. If you are paying child support, keep doing so to the extent that you can. Even if you are seeking modification because you can’t pay the full amount, pay something. Typically, child support modifications are not retroactive to before an action is filed, so any amount due will remain your responsibility. In addition, you don’t want to face a contempt action for failure to pay your support obligations.
  • Contact an NC child support lawyer. Whether you are seeking to lessen your child support or seeking an increase to the support you receive, remember that acting quickly is in your and your child’s best interests.

Contact Breeden Law Office for Help

Consulting with attorney Jonathan Breeden is a good first step if you’re interested in modifying your child support order. Breeden Law Office’s locations are conveniently located in Garner, Angier, Smithfield, and Raleigh, and attorney Breeden is ready to explain your rights and responsibilities under your child support order. To schedule an evaluation of your case, contact us today at (919) 661-4970.


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A book by Jonathan Breeden