A child support order is used to obligate a noncustodial parent to provide financial support for his or her children. It sets forth the amount of the obligation (usually paid monthly) and how it is to be paid. The amount of child support someone will owe is determined by a complex formula that takes factors into consideration such as: how much time the child is with each parent; benefits that each parents provide for such as child care, dental insurance, or health insurance; child support paid to children outside of the current relationship; and several other factors. Guidelines are intended to make the calculation of child support fair, objective, consistent, and predictable (which in many instances can have the added benefit of reducing conflict and tension between the parties).
Establishing Child Support
Usually, child support is established when married parties separate or divorce, or when an unmarried couple dissolves their relationship. A couple who still resides together, even if not in a relationship, cannot establish child support. The first thing a parent must to to obtain child support is identify the other parent. When a couple is married, it is presumed that the husband is the biological father of the child. In the event that the husband is not, he can take steps to prove that he is not the father and not responsible for child support. In non-marital cases, paternity must be established prior to an order being put in place. This can be done through the father acknowledging his role through one of the following ways: signing his name to the birth certificate, being a de facto parent prior to the the child support order being put in place, or other actions.
Factors Determining Amount
North Carolina uses an “income shares” model when it comes to determining the amount of child support one will pay. This is the most common method used throughout the United States and is used by thirty-nine (39) states. North Carolina looks at the combined income of both parents. Based on the concept that both parents have an obligation to the child and that the child should receive the same proportion of parental income that he or she would have received if the parents lived together. In an intact household, the income of both parents is generally pooled and spent for the benefit of the household members, including any children.
A party might try to use parent misconduct to affect the child support amount. However, there is a universal ban on considering parental misconduct when determining child support. Parental misconduct is irrelevant to a child support award because the faultless child holds the right. Marital misconduct may have an impact on alimony, but not on child support.
In the event that the two parents’ annual gross income is greater than $25,000 a month, the supporting parent’s basic child support obligation cannot be determined by using the child support schedule. In these cases, the court should set support in such amount as to meet the reasonable needs of the child for health, education, and maintenance, having due regard to the estates, earnings, conditions, and accustomed standard of living of the child and both parties.
Child Support Modification
. Because a child support order defines the parent’s present obligation, the order is modifiable until the order ends. Contrary to common belief, modifications can change the amount both upward or downward.
North Carolina has determined that there are two main circumstances that allow for modification. First, is when the date that the support order was entered is at least three years old before the party filed the motion to modify the other. Second, is when there is a difference of 15% or more between the amount of support payable under the existing order and the amount of the child support resulting from the application of the guidelines at the time of filing. This means that if the current child support is $300 a month, then the court will not modify the order unless the new amount is either less than $255 or greater than $345. The only other time the court will modify a child support order is when a party can show a substantial changes of circumstances and the need of the child has changed.
You need a lawyer who understands all of the factors
It is important that the attorney you hire knows the ins and out of child support. At Dobson Law we understand all of the factors that are considered when determining child support. Contact us now to schedule your free consultation at 919-591-2240 or send us an email by clicking on the button below.