Parents understand that raising children involves a significant, long-term financial commitment. Still, when parents do not live together, serious questions might exist about how much child support is necessary or fair. At Carolina Law Group in Morehead City, our North Carolina child support attorneys have the knowledge and experience to help you pursue a fair order of support. Whether you are sending or receiving payments, we can work to negotiate an agreement or obtain a court order based on your true financial situation and your child’s needs.
North Carolina family law holds both parents accountable for the financial needs of their children. Although most child support disputes arise during a divorce, a youth has the right to financial support from both parents, even if they were never married. For parents who were married, the law presumes the husband is the father of any children born during the marriage. When children are born out of wedlock, there must be a legal determination of paternity before a mother can petition the court for child support or before a man can seek child custody or visitation. Unmarried parents can voluntarily recognize paternity by executing an “Affidavit of Parentage.” In lieu of voluntary acknowledgement, a parent can file a paternity suit in family court.
A child’s parents are required to pay support until the child reaches 18 years of age, or 20 years if the child is still in high school. A child can terminate support obligations early by becoming emancipated.
Retroactive child support refers to payments the custodial parent was eligible to receive before filing their petition with the court. An award of retroactive support compensates the parent for expenditures he or she met, to which the other parent rightfully should have contributed. In theory, retroactive child support can go back to the date of the child’s birth. However, the statute of limitations imposes a three-year deadline for filing a claim, so the most a parent can receive is three years of retroactive support.
Courts calculate retroactive support one of two ways:
Parents seeking retroactive support should file their claim immediately to avoid losses imposed by the statute of limitations.
North Carolina offers aggressive enforcement options for parents who have not received full, timely payments. You can take action through the state’s Child Support Enforcement Agency and the family court. A recipient parent can file a Motion for Order to Show Cause, requesting the court to hold a non-paying parent in contempt. The court has the power to impose sanctions, including:
Parents who find themselves unable to meet their support obligations should immediately ask the court for a modification of their support order. Even if you have an informal agreement with the other parent to pay less during a financial dry spell, unpaid support accumulates, and the recipient can demand full payment at any time. Delinquent child support cannot be discharged, even in bankruptcy, so talk to a knowledgeable child support lawyer as soon as possible.
The Carolina Law Group provides effective child support representation for parents in Morehead City and other locations throughout the area. Call us at 252-636-3737 or contact us online to schedule a consultation at our office.