When to Request Child Support Modifications in NC

Written by Jonathan Breeden

August 28, 2019

If you feel you are being asked to pay too much child support, or your child’s expenses have risen since support was last calculated, then you may be eager to ask for child support modifications. However, North Carolina has rules and standards in place that dictate when such modifications are appropriate.

Before asking for a change to your support order, talk with an experienced North Carolina child support attorney from Breeden Law Office. You can schedule a consultation through the online form, or by calling (919) 661-4970.

Ask for a Modification After Three Years

If your child support order has not been reviewed in over three years, then you should look into asking for a modification. You can ask for adjustments whether you are the custodial or non-custodial parent. If three years has passed, you do not have to show a change in circumstances. If it has been less than three years, then you need to prove that your circumstances have, indeed changed. If under North Carolina’s Child Support Guidelines, a parent demonstrates the calculation would change the amount by 15% or more, then one can get a modification within three years.

If the order is less than three years old and if you are the non-custodial parent who pays child support, you may find a re-calculation would lead to a decrease of more than 15% in your required payments. Or, as the custodial parent, you may find the non-custodial parent would owe you at least 15% more in support.

Ask for a Modification After a Substantial Change in Circumstances

Whether or not it has been three years since the last child support order was entered, you can ask for a modification if there has been a substantial change in your or your child’s circumstances. Such changes include:

Your child’s medical or educational needs have changed.

For example, if your child no longer needs daycare services because they have entered a public school, you may have the right to ask for your child support responsibility to be lowered. Or, if your child’s medical needs have increased, the custodial parent may ask for an increase in support.

A parent experiences a significant, involuntary decrease in income.

If you are laid off from your job and have had a difficult time finding new work, you can ask for the support to be re-calculated.

Physical custody of the child changes.

If physical custody has changed significantly, then the parent responsible for paying support may benefit from seeking a modification. For example, parents may now have 50/50 custody, and a judge needs to determine who is owed support and how much.

A child support obligation ends for one or more children.

If one of your children is now too old to be eligible for support, then the paying parent must ask the court for a modification. If you share only one child, this may lead to a termination of support. If you share two or more children, the child support may be re-calculated to include only the minor children.

Not all financial changes will count as a substantial change in circumstances, particularly financial changes a parent takes on voluntarily. A custodial parent cannot decide to become a stay-at-home parent and expect their child support payments to increase.

If you, your children, or the other parent’s situation has changed, you should speak with an experienced North Carolina child support lawyer about whether a judge will see that change as substantial enough to warrant a recalculation and modification.

What Happens When You Ask for a Child Support Modification?

When you file for child support modifications in court, the judge will first determine whether you are eligible for a modification. If it has been three years since the last child support order, then the judge will calculate the appropriate amount of child support based on the current circumstances of your situation.

If the new calculation results in an amount that is 15% more or 15% less than the current child support order in place, the judge will approve a modification. If the new calculation is less than a 15% change in either direction, the child support order will remain in place.

If it has not been at least three years since your last child support modification, then the judge will determine whether there has been a material and significant change in circumstances. As the parent who asked for the modification, you are required to provide evidence of a substantial change – of at least 15%. If you can cross this hurdle, then the judge will perform the child support calculation based on the current circumstances and may modify the child support order.

Breeden Law Office Can Help

To discuss whether now is a good time to ask for a child custody modification, contact Breeden Law Office at (919) 661-4970. Attorney Jonathan Breeden has more than 15 years of experience handling child support disputes and enforcing child support agreements and court orders. Contact us today to schedule an initial evaluation of your case.


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