A North Carolina Court with jurisdiction over a minor child has a statutory right to enter a child support order setting child support in an amount that would best meet the needs of the child. As such, a court has authority under certain circumstances to modify, or change, child support regardless of whether there is an existing court order that establishes child support or whether the parties have a written child support agreement.
A parent who desires to modify child support that has been court ordered must file an appropriate legal action with the court requesting that child support be modified, either increased or decreased. The parent seeking to modify the child support has the burden of showing that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred that would justify an increase or decrease in child support. A substantial change of circumstances sufficient to justify a modification of child support generally relates to a change in the child’s needs or a parent’s ability to pay. However, it is presumed that a substantial change of circumstances has occurred to justify modification of a child support obligation if an existing child-support order is at least three years old and there is a difference of 15% more or less in the amount of child support that would result by applying the present child support guidelines and the amount of child support being paid under the existing order.
A parent who is required to pay child support pursuant to a court order may not unilaterally reduce the amount of support he or she is paying, or stop paying the child support, without permission from the court or unless otherwise provided by law.
When child support is being paid pursuant to a private written agreement between the parents, the parents may enter into an amended or subsequent written agreement whereby they mutually agree to modify the child support obligation. Any such agreements that modify child support should be done with the assistance and guidance of a family law attorney to ensure that proper legal protocol is followed and any changes to the child support obligation are legally binding. Parents who have a written agreement that establishes child support also have the option of initiating legal proceedings to bring the issue of child support before the court for determination.
If you are paying or receiving child support and believe grounds exist to have your child support modified, either increased or reduced, please contact our office. We can review your current financial condition and child support arrangement and help you determine if a modification of child support is appropriate in your circumstances.