We’re here to help answer your questions about child support. Below are some of the more common questions we hear.
Where to File Child Support
Child support is established by the entry of a court order or by a private agreement (contract) of the parties. To get a court order for child support, you need to file a Complaint (lawsuit) for child support. A claim for child support can be filed on its own or together with other claims such as divorce or child custody. Actions for child support must be filed in either the county where the parent or child resides or in the county where the child is physically present.
How is child support calculated?
Both parents are required to share the financial responsibility to support their child/children. Child support amounts are generally based upon the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines and factor in the parties’ gross monthly incomes, the number of children, health insurance and work-related childcare costs, extraordinary expenses, and the parties’ custodial schedule. In instances where the combined incomes of both parents are greater than $360,000 per year, the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines are not used, and instead, the court considers other factors such as the reasonable needs of the child/children.
What about past child support?
Child support that is ordered for a time before the complaint about child support is filed often called retroactive child support or “back support,” is not automatic. Retroactive support can be ordered when the custodial parent has made payments on behalf of a child before the child support complaint has been filed. In North Carolina, there is a three-year statute of limitation regarding claims for retroactive support. For example, if you filed for child support today, you can only seek reimbursement for payments made on behalf of the child from three years prior to today’s date.
Can a parent refuse to pay child support?
No. Once a judge has ordered a parent to pay an amount of child support, that obligation continues until terminated. Child support generally terminates when a child turns 18 (unless the child is still in high school, at which time it will extend to graduation—but not past age 20) or when a child is emancipated. Child support payments vest or are “owed” to the other party when they become due. For example, if a parent is ordered to pay child support on the 1st of each month, those payments are owed on the first of each month regardless if the parent actually pays those amounts. If a parent fails to pay child support in full, a judge may hold him/her in contempt for disobeying the court order. The longer a parent fails to pay child support, the more likely they will be found in contempt and may be subject to other penalties such as garnishment of wages or jail time.
Do you need help obtaining Child Support?
Obtaining and enforcing an order for child support can be a lengthy process and navigating it alone can be confusing. At Wake Family Law Group, we are here to assist you with that process or with advice regarding any other family law issue that may arise during this difficult time. Call our office at 919-787-4040 to set up a telephone consultation with one of our attorneys.