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Five Myths About Child Support in NC

Myth one: You can stop paying child support if you don’t get visitation with your child. Wrong. You can’t stop paying child support just because you do not get the visitation time you wanted or that you were entitled to pursuant to a separation agreement or court order. Legally, child custody or visitation and child support are completely separate matters. You must file a custody claim to get or enforce a custody order or to enforce a separation agreement.

Myth two: Once I file a motion to decrease my child support obligation, I can stop paying the amount that is owed until I see what happens in court. Wrong. You can be held in contempt of court for failure to obey a court order, even when you think the obligation will be decreased. In other words, you do not have the right to violate an order just because you are trying to get the obligation decreased.

Myth three: I am entitled to know whether my child support payment is being used by my ex’s new boyfriend or girlfriend, or wasted on something other than my child. Wrong. Child support is determined based on the incomes, insurance premiums, daycare and other expenses related to your child. Once the amount of child support is determined, that is the end of the analysis. There isn’t any requirement for the parent who receives child support to report what the funds were used for, either to the other parent or to the court.

Myth four: When my child stays with me for four weeks during the summer when she is out of school, I do not have to pay my ex any child support for that month. Wrong. If you are required to pay child support by a court order, that time was already accounted for when the child support was calculated. The answer is the same when there is a separation agreement unless it specifically says you can stop paying it under these circumstances.

Myth five: My ex just got a really great job (or inherited money), so I am entitled to an increase in the child support I get, or I am entitled to a decrease if I’m paying child support. Wrong. If that is your only basis for trying to change the amount of child support, you are out of luck. That fact alone is not a substantial change of circumstances. Generally, there must be changes related to the child’s expenses although you can sometimes meet the standard if the order is more than three years old. If a parent loses income involuntarily, such as being laid off from a business, that may also allow a parent to file motion to change child support.

Amy A. Edwards is a family law attorney in Greenville, NC, certified by the NC State Bar Board of Legal Specialization as a Family Law Specialist, and is licensed only in NC. Laws change. This article is current as of December 2015. www.AmyEdwardsFamilyLaw.com © 2015.

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