November 19, 2017
Once you’ve been ordered to pay child support, that obligation generally continues every month until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school. However, sometimes your financial circumstances might suddenly change, making it difficult to support yourself and meet your child support obligations.
Maybe you lost your job or were involved in an accident that resulted in extraordinary medical expenses. In these situations you may want to consider requesting a modification to your child support order.
How to Request a Child Support Modification
North Carolina law provides that a child support order may be modified or vacated by motion at any time. § 50-13.7. However, a judge will only modify the order due to a showing of changed circumstances.
Many different situations could be considered a change in circumstances, including any significant change in income or expenses of the party paying child support. The custodial parent could also file a motion requesting a change in child support if the non-custodial parent’s income has gone up or the expenses for providing for the child have increased.
If it has been at least three years since the child support order was entered and the changed circumstances would result in a payment that is at least 15% greater or 15% less than the current child support payment, the court will presume that a significant change in circumstances has occurred. In this case, it is likely that a modification will be approved by the court.
Past Due Payments Cannot Be Modified
A child support payment can only be modified going forward and no past due payment can be modified. § 50-13.10. Once a payment is due, you cannot retroactively request a modification to that payment, even if your circumstances were significantly changed at the time the payment was due.
This rule makes it critical that you act quickly if you experience a hardship that could impact your child support obligations. Your payment obligations will continue every month, even if you are suffering from an illness or are experiencing a large decrease in income that puts you in a difficult financial situation.
Contact a child support attorney immediately if you experience a sudden change that affects your ability to make child support payments. You may be eligible for a child support modification due to your financial hardship.
King Law handles family law matters in North and South Carolina, including divorce, alimony, and child support cases. Follow us on Facebook for more information and updates on family law issues.