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North Carolina Child Support Modification Laws

Last updated 1/14/2020

When parents set child support obligations, they expect their financial situation will remain constant for the foreseeable future. However, sometimes the best-laid plans go awry. When a parent's financial circumstances change, either for better or for worse, child support modification may be appropriate to adjust the existing obligation. States have established procedures for reviewing and adjusting child support awards. This article provides an overview of North Carolina's child support modification laws.

Child Support Modification in North Carolina

If a court entered an order awarding child support, a parent must petition the court to modify their obligation. North Carolina law and Child Support Services (CSS) state that child support is reviewable if:

  • At least one child involved is under 18 years old; and
  • At least three years have passed since the most recent child support order or modification.

In these cases, the Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligations determines whether a modification is warranted. If a parent demonstrates a difference of 15% or more from the current award if it were calculated using the parents' current gross income, child support will be modified. The parents seeking modification bear the burden of proving that their situation has changed.

Child Support Modification Eligibility

When less than three years have elapsed, CSS or courts must verify that a change in circumstances occurred for either parent to render the case eligible for review. These circumstances may include:

  • Physical custody changes
  • Changes in the child's needs
  • Changes in a parent's income

If a party can provide evidence of situations such as these, set out by CCS in their Qualified Change in Circumstances, they may qualify for review and subsequent modification. However, not all situations are eligible for modification under this standard. For example, neither a standalone significant increase nor a significant voluntary decrease in a parent's income will merit a child support modification. The child support guidelines also state that incarceration is not voluntary unemployment and thus not sufficient to mandate child support modification. 

North Carolina Child Support Modification Laws at a Glance

Seeing a law in its statutory form can be valuable. However, reading the law in plain English is often more helpful to understand its true meaning. This chart provides an overview of North Carolina's child support modification laws.

Statute(s) & References

North Carolina General Statutes (NCGS), Section 50-13.7 (Modification of Order for Child Support or Custody)

North Carolina Child Support Guidelines

Standard for Child Support Modification

Courts may modify child support based on a change in circumstances presented by any party.

Change in Circumstances

A change in circumstances at least 3 years after the last support order or review will warrant modification when at least a 15% difference (upwards or downwards) exists between the amount of the current obligation and the amount the party would owe if the obligation were calculated using their current income.

Related Statutes

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

North Carolina Child Support Modification: Related Resources

Get Legal Help with Child Support Modification in North Carolina

Changes in a person's financial circumstances can occur at any time. In these cases, modifying child support can be a valuable way to continue meeting your financial responsibilities to your child. To learn more about child support modification procedures or get help modifying your child support obligations, contact an experienced North Carolina child support attorney today.

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