Understandably, the issues of child custody and child support often go hand-in-hand. Though divorce may end the marital relationship, it certainly does not end the relationship parents have with their children – or their obligation to support those children. And without question, most parents want to support their children – out of love, and not simply because the law requires it. As with child custody, given our modern trend toward cooperative and collaborative legal negotiation, child support obligations may be determined by the parties based on their needs and lifestyle, or it can be determined by the court based on statutory guidelines.
Regardless of which method you ultimately choose to determine child support amounts for your particular situation, having a basic understanding of how child support generally works can be beneficial – after all, the more understanding you have, the easier it will be to negotiate and settle upon an agreement that works well for everyone involved.
Most often, child support is a monthly payment from the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent to provide for the couple’s children who are in that parent’s custody. Its purpose is to ensure that even though the family is transitioning from one home to two, the children are able, to the greatest degree possible, to maintain their usual routine and standard of living. It is typically a long-standing arrangement, often lasting until the children in question are eighteen years old.
Defining Support in a Parental Agreement
As with issues of child custody, if you believe that you and your spouse are capable of working cooperatively towards a goal together, then addressing it in a separation agreement is an excellent option, as it gives you more leeway to determine what works best for your particular circumstances, and more flexibility to make changes to the agreement as your life situation changes. Choosing to address child support in a separation agreement means that you can ensure that your agreement fits your needs – even if those needs are different than what is normally provided for under the legal guidelines. For example, in a separation agreement, the parties may agree to extend support payments beyond the age of eighteen, address payment of private school or college tuition expenses, or attend to other circumstances that are important to the parties but that might not be provided for by law.
Allowing the Court to Determine Support
If parents are ultimately unable to come to an agreement on child support themselves, they can always ask the court to make the determination. Once the parties have requested the court to make that determination, the court is not bound by any support obligations previously set forth in any separation agreements.
In North Carolina, courts determine child support obligations using the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines. These guidelines were created to help calculate support obligations, and are revised at least every four years to adequately reflect cost-of-living increases. To determine your approximate child support obligation, you can use the calculator provided on our website, and can also download the appropriate child support worksheets utilized for calculating potential obligations. Typically, there are three worksheets used for calculating support under the guidelines:
Generally, when determining a support obligation, the court will look to the income of both parties from all sources. This includes not only the salaries of the respective parties, but also any stock options, IRA accounts, investments or other sources of income. In addition to considering the income of both parties, the court may also consider other factors, including, but not limited to:
Courts will often also consider and add extraordinary expenses, like special child care, extra medical expenses, counseling expenses, or necessary special education expenses, and will allocate those expenses between the parties as the court deems reasonable in its discretion.
Though in the vast majority of cases, courts use the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines in determining support obligations, there are certain situations in which courts will deviate from those guidelines. Some of these circumstances include:
In these cases, courts will make the support determination on the basis of the child’s actual needs and expenses, as opposed to utilizing the formula set forth in the guidelines.
Regardless of how the support obligation is ultimately arrived at, after it has been determined, North Carolina law allows for one spouse to pay the support directly to the other at the required times, if both parties are in agreement. In other instances, however, child support can be paid through the North Carolina Child Support Centralized Collections (NCCSCC), who will then send the child support to the receiving parent through either direct deposit or debit card. Often parents choose to send support payments through NCCSCC in order to have a documented record of all support payments made from one parent to the other in case a dispute should ever arise.
In discussing support, it should also be noted that parents who are in the midst of the divorce process may request temporary support, even if the divorce has not yet been finalized. This makes sense after all, particularly if one spouse has already moved out of the marital home. In these instances, the party needing the support can request a hearing for temporary support, and following a hearing, the court can enter a temporary support order, which will remain in place until a permanent child support order is issued. Requesting temporary support involves a number of steps, it is always a wise decision to seek the help of a trusted attorney in doing so.
 It is important to remember that if you have more than one child, and your child support agreement or order does not allocate the support amounts between the children, then you must seek a modification when one of the children reaches the age of 18 instead of simply stopping the payments, unless the original agreement or order contains an automatic termination date for the obligation. It should also be noted that if your child is 18, but is still attending high school, you cannot seek to terminate your support obligation until the child graduates, otherwise drops/fails our of school, or turns twenty, whichever is first.
If you need to speak with an experienced child support lawyer, please contact Adkins Law to arrange a consultation.
As children grown and as life circumstances change, children’s needs may change too. In some cases, one parent or the other loses a job. In other cases, unanticipated medical expenses arise, making it difficult to make ends meet. In still other cases, a child may be diagnosed with a learning disability that requires special education at a private school. Ultimately, one of life’s truths is that we should expect the unexpected. In those circumstances, one of the parties, or both parties, may wish to modify the existing support obligation.
If the parties have agreed upon a support obligation as part of their separation agreement, then they may modify the agreement as they wish, provided that both parties are on the same page, and are willing to do so. In that circumstance, the parties would simply need to revise and redraft the agreement to fit their current needs, and have both parties sign the updated copy.
When a modification of existing court-ordered child support is sought, however, the court must order the modification as well. In those instances, the party seeking the modification must show that a substantial change in circumstance has occurred which warrants the modification. Typically, if three years have passed and the child support guidelines have been modified based on cost of living to indicate an increase in the amount due, a substantial change in circumstances is presumed.
When less than three years have passed, however, either child support services or the court must verify that a change of circumstance for either parent occurred of a nature sufficient to render the case eligible for review. Examples of those changed circumstances might include:
o Changes in the physical custody arrangement of the children;
o Changes in the children’s needs;
o Significant and substantial changes in a parent’s income.
If a party is able to prevent evidence of these changes, they may qualify for review of the current support obligation and modification as warranted. Whether or not a particular change in circumstances may warrant modification is a matter to be discussed with qualified and experienced counsel, who will be able to best advise you as to your particular circumstances.
If you need to speak with an experienced family law attorney, please contact Adkins Law to arrange a consultation.
Are you in need of an attorney to help you with your divorce, child support, alimony, child custody, etc.? Adkins Law is here to help! Call us at 704-274-5677 to schedule your consultation with an attorney here at Adkins Law.
When does child support terminate in Mecklenburg County? Child support terminates in North Carolina when a child reaches eighteen years of age, except:
1. It stops sooner if the child is emancipated.
2. If a child is still in high school when the child reaches eighteen, child support payments continue until the child graduates, ceases to attend school on a regular basis, fails to make satisfactory academic progress towards graduation, or reaches age twenty, whichever comes first, unless the Court, in it’s discretion, orders that child support payments at age eighteen or prior to high school graduation.
If you have questions regarding child support or the termination of child support in Mecklenburg County, contact Adkins Law. We are located in Huntersville NC and serve the greater Charlotte area.
In North Carolina, the goal of child support is ensure that the child is receiving the same proportion of their parents’ income as they would if they lived together. This is determined by a formula through the North Carolina Support Guidelines, which are designed to meet the needs of the child while being fair to both parents. The child support order will dictate the amount of money the non- custodial parent must pay.
How is the support computed?
Calculating child support requires determining the parents’ total gross income and calculating the percentage that each parent contributes to the total. The court may also consider overtime pay, bonuses, self- employment and other biological or adopted children. Step- children are not considered in the calculation.
It is important to remember child support has priority over all other financial obligations, and in addition to setting child support, the order may require one or both parents to provide health insurance coverage for the children.
How does the process work?
The non- custodial parent will be served with a Civil Summons and Complaint. They can respond to the document by filing an answer, providing financial information to the child support office prior to the hearing date and signing a voluntary support order, appearing at a hearing, or getting an attorney who will assist in responding to the Complaint.
If the non- custodial parent does not respond to the Compliant, the court may enter a default offer. This means the court takes everything the custodial parent says to be true, and enters an order based on that information.
Coming to an agreement between the parties is always preferred, and if both parents are able to find a solution that they can agree on then a court hearing is not required.
Contact Adkins Law today to set up a consultation and discuss the best way to move forward in your Child Support case.
Undeniably, many families in the US experience serious domestic problems that often necessitate legal interventions. Just like other states of the US, North Carolina (NC) too has its unique laws, under the North Carolina General Statutes (NCGS), that govern all the family matters and that are applicable across its respective regions including Mecklenburg County and all the regions within such counties such as Cornelius, Davidson, and Huntersville in Mecklenburg County. As such, it is crucial for all persons residing within NC, particularly in Mecklenburg County to know the fundamentals of family law in NC likely to affect them such as separation and divorce, alimony, child support, and child custody.
Noteworthy, separation and divorce (NCGS § 50) are two different concepts under North Carolina’s family law statutes. A legal separation does not end one’s marriage. Instead, a legal separation lets the parties remain married but live separately. Marital misconduct may come into play here if a party wants to file an action for a forced legal separation. However, for an action for a forced legal separation (divorce from bed and board) to succeed, the complainant must provide evidence establishing that the spouse was at fault including cruelty, adultery, and indignities, etc.
Significantly, although one can legally separate at whatever time, the parties must have been physically separated for a minimum period of one (1) year to succeed in a no-fault divorce. As such, one must meet the legal definition of “separation” to file a divorce case. Merely living in different rooms of the same house or living in separate houses but maintaining the appearance of a relationship does not qualify as a legal separation under the state’s law. If the couple reconciles, the separation period terminates. Additionally, another option other than separation exists, though rarely pursued. Here, the law allows a partner to file for divorce after being lawfully separated for three (3) years and believes that the other partner suffers from untreatable lunacy.
Alimony, child support, and child custody are also NC family law issues. According to NCGS § 50-16.3A, alimony is the act of paying for the upkeep and maintenance of a partner, either through a lump-sum or on an ongoing basis provided by the supporting spouse to the dependent spouse. In Mecklenburg County, forinstance, the general rule is that a dependent spouse is the one earning less income, though the NCGS contains sixteen factors (NCGS § 50-16.3A) that guide the court in making such a determination. When it comes to child custody in NC, the most common reference usually made is “the best interest of the child.” Here, the judge (not a jury) hears the evidence presented before the court and decides how the parents, either jointly or individually, will share time with the children and make decisions impacting the lives of the children.
Often, the court appoints joint physical custody of the children to the parents. Sometimes the court will award one parent as having main physical custody while the other having ancillary physical custody accompanied with a visitation schedule. One parent is usually ordered to pay the other parent child support. Such support is usually assessed using the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines, especially if the combined yearly income of the two prior to taxation amounts to $300,00.00 or less (though also dependent on the custodial schedule), and such a support lasts until the child turns 18 years and graduates high school, or the child is lawfully emancipated. If you need to speak with an experienced family law attorney, contact Adkins Law.
I’m the Father?!
For a couple who has been trying to get pregnant, the sentence “you’re the father” will often be received as exciting news. But for all of the frat boys, famous rappers, and casual daters of the world, this may be your worst nightmare. So, what do you do if a paternity action is brought against you?
What is a paternity action?
A paternity action is a legal suit that is used to establish the paternity of a child that can be brought by the mother or a state agency if the mother is receiving state financial assistance. In this proceeding, the judge will hear evidence as to why the mother believes that you are the father of her child and will often order genetic testing. This testing will be done by a laboratory chosen by the court. If the genetic match is 97% or higher, you are the father!
What does it mean to be the legal father?
Establishing legal paternity comes with several obligations and benefits, including paying child support, and having the right to visit with your child.
What should my next steps be?
If a paternity action is brought against you, you will have the opportunity to file an answer with the court stating why you believe you are not the father. You should contact Adkins Law ASAP to set up a consult to help you through this process.
Domestic violence is far more common than we know. It is a problem that affects people regardless of race, gender, sexuality or socioeconomic status. If you or someone you love is being abused, it is important to come forward to seek help.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is causing, or attempting to cause, bodily injury to the victim. It can also be placing the victim in fear of imminent, serious bodily injury. This may include continued harassment if it causes severe emotional distress.
It is important to remember that domestic violence can only occur between people who have a current or former relationship. This includes spouses, household members, parent/ child or boyfriend/ girlfriend.
What to do if you are a victim of domestic violence
Your safety is the biggest priority—get yourself to safety and call 911. If you do not have a safe place, you can seek help at a shelter.
From there, you have the option of seeking a restraining order and/ or filing criminal charges. Criminal charges are recommended because the criminal system has some procedures in place that the civil system does not, like probation and violent offender programs. If the abuser is found guilty at trial, then the terms and conditions of his or her sentence depend on various factors including what crimes the abuser has committed against you and prior offenses
How does domestic violence effect custody and child support?
It is rare for those issues to be handled in the civil domestic violence process of getting a restraining order. Many judges prefer that issues of child support and custody be handled in a separate action. You will need to file a separate complaint seeking custody and child support.
What about alimony and property division?
The judge in your domestic violence can only deal with these issues on a very limited basis, such as addressing temporary distribution of vehicles and the home. Many judges prefer that these issues be handled in a separate action. You will need to file a separate complaint alimony and equitable division.
Domestic violence proceedings can be confusing and time consuming, especially when dealing with other family law issues. Contact Adkins Law today to set up a consultation and decide your next steps.
North Carolina state law requires that child support be determined by a formula through the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines. These guidelines assume that the child should receive a proportional amount of each parent’s monthly income as if they lived together. Thee guidelines are intended to meet the needs of the children, while remaining fair to both parties.
Child support orders specify the amount of money that a non-custodial parent must pay. The formula used to calculate the amount of support necessary involves two steps.
These guidelines also consider other biological children each party may have, as well as child care costs and medical insurance costs for the child(ren) in the order.
You should also know that:
How does the process work?
The non-custodial parents are served with a Civil Summons and Complaint. They can respond to these documents in one of the following ways:
If the non-custodial parent does not respond or appear in court, the court will accept the information contained in the Complaint to Establish Support as true and will issue an order to pay child support based on that information.
It is always easier for everyone if both parties work together to establish a child support order. By reaching an agreement that is based on the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines, a court hearing is not required.