Child support is awarded to a custodial parent to assist with the expense of raising a child. The non-custodial parent is legally obligated to pay once a court has ordered it. Although the court makes a determination on the amount of child support at the time child support is awarded, the order can be modified at a later date due to a change in circumstances, such as when an ex-spouse’s income increases.
Amount of Child Support
When initially setting the child support order, North Carolina courts are required to utilize state guidelines that set forth a mathematical formula for calculating the amount of child support. The factors that are used in this formula are the gross monthly income of both parents, cost of health care, child care expenses and other expenses related to raising children. If either parent earns above or below a certain amount or there is another good reason, the judge has limited discretion to make an order outside the guidelines.
The North Carolina Child Support Enforcement program reviews child support orders every three years if the custodial parent is receiving any type of public assistance. In addition, either parent may request a review of a child support order enforced through CSE every three years.
A parent may request a review by CSE if there has been a substantial change in circumstances that affect the child. The court will review each parent’s present income and assets as well as the needs and expenses of the child to determine what, if any, modifications should be made to the child support order.
Changes in Income
A mere change in income is not sufficient to request a review. However, if either parent’s income changes by 15 percent or more after the child support order is set, the child support order may be revisited. This change can be positive or negative.