Can My Ex Reduce Their Child Support?

Written by Jonathan Breeden

February 14, 2020

A child support order is not set in stone.

Child support in North Carolina only remains in effect as long as the circumstances do not change. However, if something does change, then you or your ex can ask for a child support modification. If the judge finds there has been a substantial change in circumstances within three years, then the support amount may increase or decrease.

If you received a child support modification notice or you think your ex wants to reduce their child support payment, call a North Carolina child custody and support attorney at Breeden Law Office.

With over 15 years experience and offices in Raleigh, Garner, Angier, and Smithfield, attorney Breeden can help.

Call (919) 205-5254 today or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

When Can Child Support Be Decreased

Your ex can file a petition to modify their child support if their situation has significantly changed since the order was put in place. In addition, they can request a recalculation if it has been three years since the last calculation.

If it has been less than three years, the court will look for a serious change in circumstances. Without demonstrating an important change, the court will not re-calculate.

For instance, a petition for a child support modification is common when a paying parent loses their job or makes far less money than they used to. A modification request may also occur if their expenses have risen considerably, like medical bills eat up a greater percentage of their income.

Your child’s parent may also return to court if something changes regarding your child. For example, when a child turns 18 they may no longer be entitled to support, or switched from an expensive daycare to public school.

What Lowers Child Support Payments

When your child’s other parent asks to pay less child support, the court will follow a few standard steps.

First, the court re-calculates child support based on state guidelines and each parent’s financial circumstances. Parents need to be careful when asking for a modification. The guidelines may show that they should pay more than the order currently in place due to inflation or other circumstances.

If the modification is based on a parent’s reduced income, the new calculation should show a lower support obligation. In most cases, the most recent calculation must show at least a 15 percent change in the amount owed to reduce a parent’s obligation.

Next, the court takes the parents’ and child’s overall circumstances into consideration. In rare situations, the judge may order an amount lower than the current guideline’s calculation.

Reasons Child Support Won’t Be Reduced

There are numerous reasons that justify a lower child support obligation. However, just because a petition results in a hearing, recalculations do not guarantee a change in what you and your child are owed.

The following will not result in reduced child support:

  • A significant voluntary decrease in income, without other relevant factors
  • A significant increase in income, without other relevant factors
  • The child getting older
  • A cost of living increase
  • Voluntarily filing bankruptcy
  • Voluntarily paying support for another child that is not required by law
  • A financial responsibility for other children, without other relevant factors

Breeden Law Office Can Help

Just because your ex filed a modification request to stop or lower their obligation does not mean they will succeed.

North Carolina child support attorney Jonathan Breeden will review the petition and advise you on whether it appears your ex’s case is strong or weak. Attorney Breeden will also review your child support history. You may be able to adjust the support in your favor.

Let us help you fight for a fair child support amount no matter the circumstances.

For more information on child support modifications, contact Breeden Law Office at (919) 661-4970.


Divorce In North Carolina: What You Need To Know

A book by Jonathan Breeden