Olsinski Law Firm team

Child Support Modification

Experienced Charlotte Family Law Attorneys Helping Parents Navigate Contested Child Support Issues

Under North Carolina law, parents are required to support their children. When a couple divorces, this usually means that the court will order one parent to pay child support. Once a court enters a child support order, it must be honored. However, when circumstances change, parents may need to petition the court to modify the amount of child support. At the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, our dedicated Charlotte child support attorneys have decades of experience helping parents navigate the many complex and high-stakes issues that come up in the wake of a divorce. We have successfully negotiated and litigated countless cases involving the modification of child support obligations, and we look forward to learning how we can help you secure the results you are looking for.

When Can Parents Modify a Child Support Order in North Carolina?

Parents can seek a modification of an existing child support order once three years have passed since the court entered the order. However, courts will also entertain motions to modify child support if the party seeking the modification can establish that there has been a “substantial change in circumstances.” The North Carolina Child Support Guidelines provide that any newly calculated child support amount that is 15 percent more or less than the existing child support amount is considered a substantial change in circumstances. For example, if you are currently paying $500 per month in child support but, due to job loss, you can only afford to pay $300 per month, losing your job would constitute a substantial change in circumstances.

Other examples of substantial changes in circumstances include:

  • A change of child custody;
  • A child begins receiving public assistance;
  • Another child on the child support order is no longer eligible for child support, usually because they’ve turned 18.
Can a Change in the Child’s Needs Justify a Modification Order?

Yes, although many child support modification petitions are based on a change in a parent’s circumstances, courts will also consider changing the amount of child support based on a child’s needs. For example, if a child enters daycare, starts college, or experiences a serious medical issue, it may justify an increase in child support. On the other hand, if a child leaves daycare to attend public school or receives a scholarship for college, it may warrant a decrease in child support obligations.

How Long Does a Parent Need to Pay Child Support in North Carolina?

Typically, a parent’s obligation to support their child ends when the child turns 18. However, if the child is over 18 and has not yet graduated high school, a parent may need to continue paying child support. There are also a few situations where a child support order terminates before a child reaches 18:

  • The child gets married;
  • The child joins the military; or
  • The child becomes emancipated.

Notably, if a parent is not current with their child support obligations when their obligation to pay support ends, they are not excused from paying all child support arrears.

What Happens if Someone Finds Out They Are Not a Child’s Father?

Only a parent’s biological or adoptive parents are required to pay child support. So, if a man who believes he was a child’s father agrees to pay child support or is ordered to pay child support and then learns that he is not the father, he can petition the court to terminate his child support obligations. However, depending on the circumstances, a paternity test may be necessary to validate a claim.

Do you Have Questions About Modifying a North Carolina Child Support Order?

If you believe that your current child support order does not reflect your current situation, the dedicated Charlotte family law attorneys at the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, can help. We have assisted countless parents in modifying their child support obligations and payments to ensure that they are not overly burdensome while, at the same time, adequately addressing all of the child’s needs. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with a Charlotte divorce lawyer, give us a call at 704-405-2580. You can also reach one of our Concord family law attorneys at 704-918-4747. We represent clients in Mecklenburg, Gaston, Cabarrus, Iredell, Rowan, and Union Counties.

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