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When Child Support Ends for One Child, How Is Child Support Determined for the Remaining Child or Children?

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When a parent is paying court ordered child support to the other parent for two or more children, and the obligation to pay child support for one of the children terminates, unless the court’s order allocates the child support between the children, the supporting parent cannot legally unilaterally reduce or adjust the amount of his/her child support obligation. Under the circumstances, the parent should apply to the court for a modification of child support so that child support may be determined in an amount necessary to meet the reasonable needs of the remaining minor child or children. If the parents are able to agree on a modification or reduction in the amount of the child support that is owed for the remainder child or children, then their agreement can be approved by the court and adopted as a consent order. It is imperative, however, that proper legal procedure be followed to ensure that the modified child support agreement is approved by the court or is otherwise legally binding. Failure to do so could result in the supporting parent being found in contempt of court and owing an arrearage for back child support.

When child support is being paid pursuant to the terms of a separation agreement or child support agreement, then the terms of the agreement may specify the amount of child support attributable to each child, or a method for modifying the child support obligation when a child attains age 18 or becomes emancipated. However, regardless of whether the parties have a written agreement that determines child support or an existing court order, either party may initiate legal action and request that a court with jurisdiction determine the matter of child support.

This article is for information purposes only and is not to be considered or substituted as legal advice. The information in this article is based on North Carolina state laws in effect at the time of posting.