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CHILD SUPPORT

Once the issues of child custody are resolved, parents often are faced with determining an appropriate amount of child support. Child support deals with the financial obligations each parent has for the care of dependent children, and sometimes includes support for children over the age of 18. Usually, the non-custodial parent is the payor of child support, however that isn’t always the case. Regardless, it is important to keep in mind that child custody and child support in North Carolina are distinctly separate legal issues. 

How is Child Support Determined? 

Child support awards are governed by strict statutory guidelines in North Carolina referred to as the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines. These guidelines provide a specific mathematical approach in considering certain economic factors to determine the “reasonable needs of the child” as well as the “relative ability of the parents”, that include:

  • number of children of the relationship;
  • the amount of time, specifically overnights, each parent spends with each child annually; 
  • each parent’s gross income from all sources; 
  • each parent’s contribution for medical insurance and child care;
  • child support obligations for other children; 
  • the number of children from prior relationships or that a party has a legal obligation for; and 
  • extraordinary expenses (tuition, visitation travel, medical care)

North Carolina has created forms for calculating child support. The guidelines are so specific that a parent’s child support obligation or expectation can be calculated with reasonable certainty in almost every instance. 

Disputes often arise when attempting to determine what numbers are used in the form to calculate a child support obligation.  If a parent intentionally suppresses their income to reduce their obligation, it is possible to have the court inpute potential and more realistic income for them.  In the event that a parent has not paid an obligation prior to the court ordering them it is also possible to seek retroactive support payments for a period of time. 

What is a deviation? 

Often the guidelines produce a number that is not appropriate for the support of a child. In these situations a deviation from the use of the guidelines can be requested. Deviations will also be needed if the gross combined income of parents exceed $360,000 per year. When child support is determined upon a deviation of the guidelines, the court will use the actual needs and expenses of the child as well as the ability of the parties to calculate a child support obligation. 

Enforcement of an Order 

If timely payments of child support are not made the Courts have mechanisms in place to enforce the terms of the Order. These will vary depending on the facts involved, but can include payment of attorney fees for the other parent, license suspension, interception of income tax refunds, and a possible jail sentence. Since child support obligations vest once they are due and nonpayment of support comes with serious consequences, if your child support orders needs changing,  it is important to address those issues with an attorney immediately. 

Child Support Articles

CHILD SUPPORT

Child Support Order Modification

It is also important to review of a child support order at least once every three years to ensure it remains current. Guidelines can change, as well as circumstances of the parties and children. A knowledgeable attorney can help you determine if a modification of your child support order is appropriate. 

As with all the issues your minor children, creative resolutions through mediation provide parents an opportunity to create agreements that may be of greater benefit to their children and the function of the family than statutory guidelines may permit. When this solution-oriented and efficient approach to resolving family disputes through negotiated settlement is unsuccessful, the family law attorneys at GHMA | LAW are primarily trial lawyers.

Patrick McCroskey and Janet Amburgey are both board-certified specialists in family law and have years of experience in child support matters. Their knowledge provides them with an opportunity to provide you with all the options available, even in complex matters to ensure a fair amount child support is awarded. If you need a child support order established, modified, or enforced we can help. Call us today to find the right solution for your children at 828-258-3368.  

 

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Image of small child with hands, palms face down, in the hands of an adult, depicting child support

CHILD SUPPORT

Once the issues of child custody are resolved, parents often are faced with determining an appropriate amount of child support. Child support deals with the financial obligations each parent has for the care of dependent children, and sometimes includes support for children over the age of 18. Usually, the non-custodial parent is the payor of child support, however that isn’t always the case. Regardless, it is important to keep in mind that child custody and child support in North Carolina are distinctly separate legal issues. 

How is Child Support Determined? 

Child support awards are governed by strict statutory guidelines in North Carolina referred to as the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines. These guidelines provide a specific mathematical approach in considering certain economic factors to determine the “reasonable needs of the child” as well as the “relative ability of the parents”, that include:

  • number of children of the relationship;
  • the amount of time, specifically overnights, each parent spends with each child annually; 
  • each parent’s gross income from all sources; 
  • each parent’s contribution for medical insurance and child care;
  • child support obligations for other children; 
  • the number of children from prior relationships or that a party has a legal obligation for; and 
  • extraordinary expenses (tuition, visitation travel, medical care)

North Carolina has created forms for calculating child support. The guidelines are so specific that a parent’s child support obligation or expectation can be calculated with reasonable certainty in almost every instance. 

Disputes often arise when attempting to determine what numbers are used in the form to calculate a child support obligation.  If a parent intentionally suppresses their income to reduce their obligation, it is possible to have the court inpute potential and more realistic income for them.  In the event that a parent has not paid an obligation prior to the court ordering them it is also possible to seek retroactive support payments for a period of time. 

What is a deviation? 

Often the guidelines produce a number that is not appropriate for the support of a child. In these situations a deviation from the use of the guidelines can be requested. Deviations will also be needed if the gross combined income of parents exceed $360,000 per year. When child support is determined upon a deviation of the guidelines, the court will use the actual needs and expenses of the child as well as the ability of the parties to calculate a child support obligation. 

Enforcement of an Order 

If timely payments of child support are not made the Courts have mechanisms in place to enforce the terms of the Order. These will vary depending on the facts involved, but can include payment of attorney fees for the other parent, license suspension, interception of income tax refunds, and a possible jail sentence. Since child support obligations vest once they are due and nonpayment of support comes with serious consequences, if your child support orders needs changing,  it is important to address those issues with an attorney immediately. 

Child Support Order Modification

It is also important to review of a child support order at least once every three years to ensure it remains current. Guidelines can change, as well as circumstances of the parties and children. A knowledgeable attorney can help you determine if a modification of your child support order is appropriate. 

As with all the issues your minor children, creative resolutions through mediation provide parents an opportunity to create agreements that may be of greater benefit to their children and the function of the family than statutory guidelines may permit. When this solution-oriented and efficient approach to resolving family disputes through negotiated settlement is unsuccessful, the family law attorneys at GHMA | LAW are primarily trial lawyers.

Patrick McCroskey and Janet Amburgey are both board-certified specialists in family law and have years of experience in child support matters. Their knowledge provides them with an opportunity to provide you with all the options available, even in complex matters to ensure a fair amount child support is awarded. If you need a child support order established, modified, or enforced we can help. Call us today to find the right solution for your children at 828-258-3368.  

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Common Questions & Concerns

We will do everything possible to structure your case so that you may obtain the best legal result. Punishing your spouse or winning an all-out, no holds-barred victory, however, is an unrealistic and unattainable goal. Your attorney's job is to represent your best interests, and to achieve the best resolution for you. His job is not to serve as your avenger. He cannot give you retribution for the sins of your spouse. If you enter this process expecting revenge and retribution, you will be sorely disappointed and unhappy with your attorney, yourself, and the outcome of your case, no matter how favorable that outcome may be to you. Before beginning the attorney-client relationship, you should make every effort to put your priorities in order, and realize that there are some things the legal system cannot provide.

Most people share the same fears, questions, and beliefs about divorce. The following are some of the most common of these fears, questions and beliefs.

Click on the titles below to toggle on and off pertinent information.

Emotions

In a domestic dispute, negative emotions such as hostility, anger, and revenge can needlessly delay a resolution and increase the cost. Perspective and objectivity, on the other hand, can promote a conclusion and reduce the cost.

Many factors may be involved in the breakup of your marriage, and you may feel indignation, anger and resentment toward your spouse. You may want to punish your spouse by making the process difficult and time-consuming. This type of thinking usually results in a no-win situation for everyone concerned.

... read more >>>

Reconciliation

Often, a potential client visits an attorney to discuss divorce, although they have not yet made the decision to take the big step. First, they want to know their options. Attorneys typically encourage them to explore alternatives, and often suggest how to protect themselves and meet their needs, short of divorce.

If your attorney raises the issue of reconciliation, he is not questioning or judging your decision. But, it is clarifying and confirming that you know your options, and that you want a divorce.

Your Spouse's Suggestions

The mediator’s role is to move the parties beyond personality clashes and historic grievances. Only then, can the mediator help you improve communication so any future dealings can take place without repeating the difficulties of the past. Mediation is a useful tool because it adds a new dimension to the negotiations. Because the mediator’s purpose is to help guide you to find solutions that you can both agree to, he/she does not have the power to decide your case, or in any other way, act as a judge nor does he/she have a fixed result in mind to urge you toward.

... read more >>>

Your Will

As you begin the divorce process, the first order of business is to review your will. If you do not have one, get one immediately. Succession laws may conflict with your wishes.

You may choose to consult David Hillier, of this law firm, regarding your will, as well as any financial concerns and considerations you may have.

Length of Time

Generally speaking, it is impossible to predict exactly how long the case will take. After the case is under way, and your attorney understands the issues, he will be better able to gauge the duration. How long it will take depends on the following factors:

  • The number and complexity of contested issues;
  • The attitudes of each of the parties, their attorneys, and their inclination to settle;

read more >>>

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a process in which two or more people involved in a dispute come together voluntarily to try to develop a solution to their problem with the help of a neutral third person (or persons), called the mediator. Unlike a judge or an arbitrator, the mediator does not take sides or make decisions. The mediator, usually trained in conflict resolution, is there to help the disputants evaluate their goals and options in order to formulate their own solution. To achieve the fairest results possible, you both take an active part in your divorce and turn what could be a battle for control into a search for mutually beneficial solutions.

Does Mediation Work?

Mediation can take place over a series of sessions. But, more often than not, it is scheduled for a continuous amount of time to keep the negotiations going. Sessions are generally held in the privacy of the mediator’s office or an attorney’s office, and begin with all involved signing an agreement that the negotiations will be kept confidential. At the end of a successful mediation, the mediator will prepare a Memorandum or writing expressing the agreements of the parties, at least on the issues which were resolved. Any formal agreement will be drafted by your or your spouse’s lawyer.

What to Expect from Your Mediator

The mediator’s role is to move the parties beyond personality clashes and historic grievances. Only then, can the mediator help you improve communication so any future dealings can take place without repeating the difficulties of the past. Mediation is a useful tool because it adds a new dimension to the negotiations. Because the mediator’s purpose is to help guide you to find solutions that you can both agree to, he/she does not have the power to decide your case, or in any other way, act as a judge nor does he/she have a fixed result in mind to urge you toward.

... read more >>>

What are the Benefits of Mediation?

Mediators can increase the likelihood of a negotiated settlement by bringing the skills, creativity, and influence of trained, impartial third parties to bear on the problem. Perhaps more importantly, frequently mediation can save time and money.

Mediation keeps your options open and reduces issues of conflict. Although most who undertake mediation have a successful conclusion, some do not. If mediation doesn’t work, you can still sue and go to court or engage in arbitration.

... read more >>>

Counseling

Domestic disputes are emotionally charged. Clients are encouraged to seek counseling before and during the process. Counseling can help clients to work through their pain, accept the marriage’s end, learn coping skills, and pick up the pieces of their lives and go forward.

Don’t wait for your spouse to agree to participate. Individual counseling can help. Often, children and parents attend counseling together to alleviate the effects of a divorce or custody dispute on the children, and to help the family heal emotionally.

... read more >>>

Practical Matters

Litigation often spawns more litigation. To determine whether certain issues are worth litigating, you must weigh the price you will pay with your time, emotions, and money, against the anticipated outcome and its benefit to you. Again, your attorney will advise you on these matters.

Dating prior to the final divorce: Don’t, unless your attorney has specifically advised you that it is okay.

... read more >>>

Attorney Camaraderie

Attorneys who specialize in Divorce and Family Law will probably try many cases against each other over the years. They will attend the same professional events and, may even work on committees together. Camaraderie develops naturally over the years. Just because your attorney and your spouse’s attorney exchange pleasantries, share a joke, or have lunch together, does not mean that they are being disloyal to their clients. Your attorney is professionally committed to the best result for you given the facts of your case and the law. Being rude, hostile, or mean to opposing counsel does nothing to further your case and generally harms your case rather than helping.

Is Your Attorney Tough Enough?

All too often, the client has the attitude that a lawyer who is a “fighter” is a lawyer who refuses to cooperate with opposing counsel, makes demands and gets instant results, goes to court at the drop of a hat, and plays Perry Mason in court. This notion is sadly misguided.

The time to fight may be during tough negotiations or in court. But, not cooperating on routine matters accomplishes only greatly increased attorney fees because it requires both attorneys to do everything the hard way. Cooperation by the attorneys, as well as the parties, particularly during the discovery phase, is always in the best interest of the client.

Social Media

Social Media is a new facet of communication today. We understand that everyone participates in social media to some degree. When you are involved in divorce proceedings or any type of litigation for that matter, a good general practice is to avoid discussing any element of your case, or your spouse, in any social media forum. All social media is discoverable, and it never goes away. If you are considering divorce or litigation, be very careful what you say in online forums, including email attached to social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace.

Costs

Just as it is impossible to predict exactly how long your case will take, it is difficult to realistically estimate the total cost of your litigation, even when your attorney knows the issues that will be contested and the strength of the parties’ feelings. If you and/or your spouse have completely lost trust in one another, want complete discovery on all issues, and desire to argue many issues to the bitter end, the process will be long, drawn-out and expensive.   read more >>>

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