If you are in the midst of a divorce in Wilmington, North Carolina and you have children, the thoughts of who will be paying child support payments – you or your spouse – have undoubtedly entered your mind. It is good that you are thinking ahead and preparing yourself for these discussions because it is inevitable that child support liability will indeed be a major topic as your divorce proceedings unfold.
You may have attempted to talk to about paying child support already. That can go one way or the other, and it typically depends on the state of your relationship with your spouse at the time. It is typically left in the hands of the courts to determine the appropriate amount of child support that needs to be paid.
Who Has to Pay Child Support
When custody is awarded, this means the children will be with one parent for most of the time. In the state of North Carolina, this parent is recognized by the courts as the “custodial parent.” However, both parents are responsible for the children financially. The non-custodial parent – the parent the child does not live with most of the time – will have to contribute to the children's lives and well-being for a portion of the time the children are with their custodial parent.
That financial contribution – called child support – is on record and can be paid in different ways which include:
- Cash or Check
- Electronic Payment
- Wage Garnishment
The dollar amount of child support is determined by the courts but can be challenged in court by an experienced child support attorney for either the custodial or non-custodial parent. A judge will include several considerations when deciding on the final amount to be paid in child support, including:
- The Incomes of Each Parent
- The Child Custody Arrangements
- Other Child-Support Obligations
- Who Provides Health Insurance for The Children
- Day Care/School Expenses
- Extraordinary Expenses (sporting activities, travel, etc.,)
These factors will also play a key role in determining the child support amount if the child splits time more evenly between the two parents.
Can Child Support Payments Be Changed?
Although, a custodial parent may have felt like they "won" when awarded child support, that number can be changed later. There will be a court order issued for the child support, and when a parent wants the child support to be changed, the attorney files a petition with supporting documentation supporting why the parent is requesting the change. Common reasons for a change in child support include:
- A Change in Income
- An Illness or Disability
- A Change in Visitation
- A Change in the Child’s Medical Needs
What Happens If a Spouse Stops Paying Child Support Payments
According to the law in North Carolina, a parent ordered to pay child support must continue doing so until the child is 18. In some cases, child support can continue through the child’s age of 20 if they remain in high school until that time.
If a parent stops paying child support in the state of North Carolina before they are legally relieved of this responsibility, they won’t immediately go to jail. There will be steps taken to help this parent get back on track and start making payments. If the parent has a job, wage garnishments could be put in place. If the parent is not working, things can get more difficult.
Some parents will purposely NOT work to avoid paying child support. As unfortunate as this situation is, it is a sad reality for many families. That parent may go to jail for a short time for not paying, however, would often rather live a compromised lifestyle instead of taking financial responsibility for their children. In this case, you and your experienced child support attorney will exhaust all the options to get your child support payments underway again.
Getting Help with Child Support
Child support liability can be uncomfortable for topic families, but it is a discussion that will come up if you and your child's other parent are not married, no matter what the reason. If you are a parent who should be receiving child support, we can help. If you are the parent who has been ordered to pay child support, but you are unable to make that payment for any reason, we can help you too.
Many families have settled child support disputes with Wilmington family law attorneys like ours at Speaks Family Law.
Speaks Law Firm, PC Family Law Division
300 N. 3rd St. Suite 310
Wilmington, NC 28401