Parents in North Carolina have a legal obligation to support their children. When parents are married or otherwise living together, they can both contribute quite easily by pooling resources and buying their children what they need. When parents split up—or, when they never live together to begin with—then North Carolina law will determine how much they pay to support their children.
A Child support agreement is one of the more straightforward family law issues, but wrinkles and disputes can arise. You need our experienced child support lawyers to advocate for you and make sure you are treated fairly in the process. Contact Plyler, Long & Corigliano, LLP.
North Carolina’s Child Support Obligations & Guidelines
North Carolina has removed most of the confusion surrounding child support by passing guidelines, which apply in most cases. These guidelines provide a formula judges use when determining child support. Some of the most important variables include:
- Each parent’s income
- Living arrangements of the children
- Cost of health insurance
- Daycare costs
The formula is sensitive to each parent’s current income. The state’s objective is not to bankrupt parents by forcing them to pay huge sums in support. Nonetheless, parents should not try to depress their income by quitting a job or getting paid under the table in the hopes that these actions will reduce their support obligation. A judge can look at your education and work history and impute a reasonable income you should earn, and then base child support on that number.
Are all child support payments decided by the guidelines?
Not all child support is determined by the guidelines. For example, some parents have very high incomes, so they have non-guideline cases. Judges have more discretion–and parents need a lawyer to help make sure they aren’t ordered to pay too much, or too little.
Furthermore, some families have unique needs. A child might have high medical or educational expenses due to a disability. A judge will take these expenses into consideration when deciding whether to depart from the guidelines.
Do You Need the help of Monroe Child Support lawyers?
If child support is usually based on a formula, do you even need the help of experienced family law attorneys? The answer is yes.
Child support is often decided at the same time as child custody or paternity, which impact the amount parents pay. If you are not the child’s father, you shouldn’t have to pay support. A lawyer can handle these issues which ultimately impact your financial obligation, if any.
Our services are also critical if you believe the other parent is hiding income, cutting their work hours, or pretending to be disabled.
We also have deep experience in cases where a departure from the guidelines is appropriate. We can work with experts to better understand what medical care your child needs.
Child Support Modification: Myths & Realities
North Carolina law allows either custodial parent to request modification of child support due to changed circumstances. For example, you might have become disabled or lost a job, so you can no longer pay.
Modification is also appropriate if one parent suddenly makes more money, such as after a promotion. Generally, there needs to be a meaningful change in circumstances to support a modification, and our child support attorney can review whether it makes sense to request one or not.
We must stress: you must keep paying child support until the order is modified. It’s a myth that you can just stop paying on your own without telling the state or the court. You need permission to suspend payments, even if tragedy strikes, like a disabling work injury. If you don’t get permission, your unpaid child support will pile up and possibly begin accruing interest.
It’s also a myth that you can stop paying child support if you choose not to see your children. The child support obligation exists whether you want to spend time with your children or not.
Child Support Enforcement
Enforcement actions are sometimes necessary when parents refuse to pay. This is a regular occurrence in North Carolina. Some parents fall behind after years of on-time payments, while others never pay a penny to begin with.
The Plyler, Long & Corigliano law office can help with enforcement. There are ways to get a resistant parent to pay, including:
- Income withholding orders. An order is sent to the other parent’s employer, who withholds a certain amount and sends it to the state for disbursement.
- Tax refund interception. The state can intercept any tax refund headed the parent’s way and apply the amount to unpaid child support.
- Credit reporting. The state might report the parent to credit report bureaus, which will lower their score.
- Liens on property. A lien is a right to payment, and a lien can be put on any property owned by the noncustodial parent.
Sometimes it is also appropriate to ask a judge to find a parent in contempt for intentionally refusing to pay child support. A judge can punish a parent or try to coerce compliance.
If you are facing contempt, our law firm can also assist you. It is possible to end up in jail for violating a court order, so you want to present a viable defense.
Why Should I Choose the Lawyers at Plyler, Long, & Corigliano?
We are seasoned family law advocates with decades of combined experience. We also stay on top of recent developments in family law, including changes to child support and custody.
Our lawyers can help with your child support case in several ways:
- Coordinate with experts like teachers or physicians to fully understand your child’s needs.
- Search for undisclosed income your ex is hiding.
- Request a modification to child support when the facts warrant it.
- Pursue enforcement of a child support order.
Our lawyers have helped hundreds of clients establish, modify, or enforce child support orders. Let us explain how we can help you.
Contact Our Monroe, NC Child Support Attorneys
Children deserve support, but parents should also not be forced into financial ruin by child support orders. To make sure your rights are protected, call our law firm today. We can assist you as part of a divorce or if there is an ongoing paternity dispute.
Meet the Attorneys
All of our attorneys are involved in Union County schools, churches and community activities.
Richard G. Long, Jr. Partner
Dale Ann Plyler Partner
Frank Corigliano Partner
Lisa Hough Beaman Associate Attorney
Lisanne Mangum Associate Attorney
Ashley McBride Of Counsel
With over 140 years of combined legal experience, you can trust your case with us.
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