North Carolina Modification of Child Support Laws

By Heather Frances J.D.

When North Carolina courts enter divorce decrees, they address topics such as child custody, child support and property division. Courts can sometimes modify the terms of a divorce when circumstances change after the divorce is finalized. Typically, courts can modify court-ordered child support when one parent can show that circumstances have changed.

Initiating Modification

In North Carolina, parents can seek a modification by filing a motion with the court, typically the court that issued the original child support order. Parents can also apply for services with North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services’ Child Support Services and request a review from the caseworker. In cases where a parent receives public assistance, CSS will review the case at least every three years even when neither parent requests review. Other cases are reviewed after three years only if a parent requests review.

Modification Standard

The parent seeking the modification needs evidence to prove a modification is justified. The amount of evidence depends on whether the child support order originated as part of a marital settlement agreement or a court-ordered decree. If a child support order was part of a marital settlement agreement, the court has authority to change it merely if the child’s needs require a change. But if the support order originated with the court, there must be a substantial change in circumstances before the court will consider modification.

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Changed Circumstances

North Carolina law presumes a family’s circumstances have changed substantially if it is at least three years after the most recent child support order and an application of the child support guidelines would result in a change of at least 15 percent. If a case does not meet this standard, a parent can still seek modification if he can prove to the court that circumstances have changed substantially. For example, if a paying parent receives a large pay increase shortly after the child support order was issued, the other spouse may be able to request a modification before three years have passed.

Retroactive Change

Child support amounts only change once the court enters a new order. Unless the court’s order is the first order entered for a particular child, the court cannot adjust child support retroactively. Thus, if a court changes the child support amount a parent pays, the change is only effective going forward.

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How Often Can You Check an Ex-Spouse's Income for Child Support in North Carolina?

References

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Texas Child Support Questions

Child support is the financial assistance paid by one parent to the parent with primary custody of the children after the parents divorce or separate. The Texas Family Code outlines how child support is calculated, when an order can be modified and when the support order terminates. The law also sets forth the procedures for enforcing a support order that goes unpaid.

How to Request a Child Support Order Be Decreased in Texas

If you lose your job, you become ill or your child's healthcare expenses go down, courts in Texas may decrease the amount of child support ordered. However, Texas courts can only change your obligation to make future payments, not missed payments you already owe. You must act quickly if you find that you cannot make your payments to avoid falling far behind.

Virginia Law on Modification of Final Divorce Decrees

In Virginia, ex-spouses may modify spousal support, child support or custody if circumstances have changed since the time of divorce. The procedure for changing any part of the divorce decree begins with filing a petition with the court and stating your reasons why you think the existing order should be changed. The court may then schedule a hearing, allowing both former spouses to provide their side of the story.

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