In this blog post in our series on family law in North Carolina, we are going to take a closer look at the issue of child support. As with many family law issues, questions about child support can often involve emotionally charged situations. Anyone facing a child support issue should talk to an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible exactly because of that reason. An attorney can calmly evaluate your concerns and give you objective advice about your child support questions. Relying on others, no matter how well-intentioned they may be, can be a serious mistake.
So, here are some basic questions many people have about child support in North Carolina.
I’m the mother/father, so don’t I automatically receive/pay child support?
This question is incredibly common, and the answer to it is an unequivocal “no.” There is no automatic right to receive, or obligation to pay, child support in North Carolina because of your sex. When a court determines any child support order, it will take a number of factors into account. Among other things the court will evaluate the income of both parents, the amount of time the child spends with each parent, as well as determine the child’s needs. The court will not give preferential treatment to one parent over another because of that parent’s sex.
What if I’m paying support and my income changes? Can I stop making child support payments?
No, you should not stop making child support payments even if you believe your circumstances have changed. If you suffer a change in economic abilities you need to talk to your lawyer so you can go to court and ask the court to modify the child support order. Until a court makes a change to the support order it is always in your best interests to make child support payments fully and on time.
My child’s father/mother and I don’t want to go to court, so we’ve entered into our own agreement. Can we do that?
Yes. However, your agreement might be subject to a court’s approval if a court ever hears any issue involving your children. Further, because the law has established guidelines that govern child support obligations the court can still issue a child support order that is different than the amount to which you agreed.
If you are considering entering into a child support agreement, or have questions about what your rights and obligations are, you need to talk to us right away. You never want to make any decisions about your child support case until you receive legal advice from an experienced attorney.