These days, a lot of people are suffering financially. Many people have lost their jobs or had their hours cut drastically. What if that means you can’t afford your child support obligation?
It’s important to understand that your child support obligation is a court order. It doesn’t automatically change when your circumstances do. If you are having trouble meeting your child support obligation due to a substantial change in circumstances, you should ask for the order to be modified.
You should not attempt to change your child support through agreement with your children’s other parent. Even if they agree to the change, you will still owe the amount specified in the order until that order is officially modified by the court.
What is a ‘substantial change in circumstances’?
A job loss, as long as you were not fired for misconduct, is generally considered a substantial change in circumstances. A loss of hours can be, too, along with a sudden, unexpected increase in your other financial responsibilities, or a change in the needs of your child.
Generally, if you were to recalculate your child support obligation using North Carolina’s child support guidelines, and the difference you would owe now is 15% or more, your change in circumstances is presumed to be substantial. If you are unsure whether your change in circumstances is substantial enough, talk to your family law attorney.
What happens next?
Once you file a motion to modify your child support obligation, the judge will hold a hearing. Your attorney will make an argument that your child support obligation is no longer reasonable under your changed circumstances. Your lawyer will show documentation that you have lost your job or experienced a reduction in your income.
Once your order is modified, your child support obligation will be updated to reflect the child support guidelines and your new situation. The modified amount will go back to the day you filed your motion.
If you have lost your job, you may face another modification when you become employed again.
If you’re facing financial hardship, don’t let unpaid child support build up. Speak with an experienced attorney about filing a motion to modify your support obligation as soon as possible.