Being a parent is a lifelong role that constantly changes, and you will have to make adjustments to adapt to these changes. This is particularly true for parents who share custody of their children.
One adjustment you may need to make is to modify a child support order. If you have recently experienced a significant shift in your resources as a parent or in the needs of your child, then you may need to explore the options of modification.
Before you make any assumptions about this process, you should know that support modifications requested within three years of the original order require a showing that there has been a substantial change of circumstances.
Below are some examples of situations that could warrant a modification of child support.
- Job loss (involuntary)
- Change in the custody schedule that significantly alters the time-sharing arrangement
- Incarceration or involuntary commitment of a parent
- Serious medical condition or illness of either the child or a parent
- Getting a substantial raise or other influx of money
- Changes in North Carolina child support laws
- The aging out of a child or children for whom support was owed (under NC law this is usually age 18 or when a child graduates from high school, whichever occurs last)
- Financial responsibility for additional children (this factor alone cannot be the basis for modification but it could be considered in conjunction with another significant change)
The general standard is that if the change results in a difference of at least 15 percent between the original order and what the amount would be in a modified order, then this can support a substantial change in circumstances that leads to either a temporary or permanent modification of child support.
It is crucial to understand that none of these events will automatically lead to a modification; a parent must petition the court to have a child support order changed. Keep in mind, too, that parents must continue to comply with the original order until a court permits an adjustment.
Any parent with questions or concerns about support modification can consult an attorney to examine the options and next steps. You should not feel as though you must navigate the legal system alone, and with legal support and guidance, you don’t have to.