So you are currently under a child support Order and need to have your obligation lowered. The following is a list of frequently asked questions and answers I encounter in my practice from those who currently pay child support looking to reduce their obligation.
What are reasons to reduce child support?
What are reasons that may raise my child support?
Can my Ex and I simply agree to reduce my child support obligation without going to Court?
That is a recipe for disaster. Only a Judge can modify a child support Order. Oral agreements between you and your Ex often are not enforced by the Court. If you two agree that is great- just make sure you file a motion with the Court and get the Order modified by a Judge!
My child support Order is several years old and one child has aged out- Should I file a motion to reduce my child support?
Before you ever file a motion to reduce child support you should run the NC child support guideline calculator to make sure your child support is not going to be increased. I have seen that happen! Every 4 years the guidelines amounts are usually adjusted up for inflation. Also your salary has likely increased in addition to health insurance expenses which tend to raise the guideline amount.
If I have 2 kids and 1 child ages out then my guideline amount will be cut in half.
False- child support does not get cut in half when one child ages out. The guideline formula is based on real world numbers in NC for an intact family and how much they spend based on their combined income and number of children. There is a certain fixed cost with the first child such as a roof, food, clothes, gas etc… When one child ages out often the guideline amount only goes down by 30%, and it can sometimes go up based on other factors if the Order is old and your income has increased.
I was just laid off- Does my child support obligation automatically stop?
No – it continues to accrue at the Court Ordered rate until modified by the Court. That is why it is critical to immediately file to reduce your child support if you lose your job. Do not expect the Court to retroactively change your back child support for any time period before you file your motion. The longer your wait the bigger the arrearage is going to be by the time you get in front of a Judge.
I can’t afford to file a motion to reduce my child support - What should I do?
It only costs $20 to file a motion to reduce child support in NC. The paperwork is online or at the Courthouse. Charlotte even has a self-serve center on the Third floor (limited hours). Don’t expect the Judge to have any sympathy for you because you could not afford to hire a lawyer. This office offers a $100 consultation fee to consult with a lawyer to get advice on what to do if you want to represent yourself in Court.
Where do I file to reduce my child support?
You usually file in the County where the Court Order is located unless parties have moved out of County or out of State. If this is the case it is usually best to consult with an attorney to determine your options.
How do I find out how much money my Ex is making?
You can request discovery such as pay-stubs, bank records, and tax records as part of your motion to reduce your child support.
Is it worth filing a motion to reduce my child support if the guideline amount will only slightly decrease?
Usually not as going to Court is time consuming. Also going to Court usually strains the relationship between parents and simply leads to more Court battles and arguments regarding visitation and future modification of child support.
I was served with a Show Cause Order for failure to pay child support- Is it too late to reduce my child support?
It is likely too late to change the arrearage that has already accrued, but you should still file a motion to reduce your future child support to keep the arrearage from getting any larger. Remember the Judge usually only has authority to modify FUTURE child support as of the date your file your motion.