When it comes to a child support order, there is no one-size-fits-all arrangement. North Carolina family courts carefully consider the family’s circumstances to establish a fair child support order that provides for the child but is also within the parent’s means to pay.
Family courts cater child support orders to the family’s individual needs, but those needs change significantly over the years. So, many parents paying child support might wonder if they can change the child support order if they come across these changes.
The answer? Yes.
It is indeed possible for parents to change the terms of their child support after three years since the initial child support order was established. However, North Carolina law states that parents must prove that there is a change in circumstances to obtain a modification.
Usually, the changes that the law accepts as valid reasons to modify a child support order include:
- A change in financial circumstances: For example, if the parent paying child support loses their job or has a decrease in wages, they can petition to reduce the amount of support they pay.
- Changes of the child’s needs and circumstances: If the child requires certain medical treatments or joins new activities, the paying or receiving parent could file a petition to increase the amount of child support.
- A change in custody circumstances: If parents adjust their custody arrangement to share custody of their children 50-50, they might move to adjust their child support order to split childcare and support costs more evenly as well.
Parents will have to provide solid evidence of their change in circumstances if they plan to pursue a modification of child support.
Seeking a child support modification is a process that requires great care. Parents must file a motion and often attend a hearing just to do so. However, modifying the agreement is often the better option than forgoing child support payments altogether and risking the consequences.