How Does Child Support Work in North Carolina?

Child Support

by Associate Laura Esseesse

Both parents are responsible for providing child support in North Carolina. However, only the non-custodial parent must make support payments if this parent has less than 123 overnights per year with the child. In such cases, the custodial parent (the parent having more than 242 overnights with the child) is already assumed to be spending the required amount on the minor child directly. Payments typically continue until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever is last. Under no circumstances will child support continue beyond the minor’s 20th birthday.

In cases of shared physical custody, i.e., where each parent has at least 123 overnights with the child, child support is determined based on a formula that weighs the ratio of the parents’ incomes and the number of overnights that each parent has with the child.

How does child support work?

There are a number of key factors that determine the amount of one’s child support obligation.  These include, but are not limited to, the incomes of both parents, the number of children in need of support and the child custody arrangements. The calculation of one’s child support obligation is generally governed by the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines, published by the Conference of Chief District Court Judges (available on North Carolina’s Child Support Enforcement website). However, a court can deviate from this amount, should it find the child support amount to be inconsistent with the child’s needs or if it would otherwise be unjust or inappropriate. In actual practice, obtaining a deviation from the child support guidelines is typically quite difficult.

In addition to direct support payments to the other parent, a parent may also be obligated to contribute to child care costs and other expenses, including medical insurance coverage for the minor child.

When determining the amount of a child support obligation, the North Carolina Child Support guidelines consider income from any source, including (but not limited to) salary, bonuses and/or commissions, pension, or severance pay. Capital gains, annuity income, Social Security benefits, worker’s compensation income, alimony received from a former spouse, or even income attributable to the use of a company vehicle may also be used to determine the amount of child support due.

Income that may be excluded from the calculation of a child support obligation include support received for other children, food benefits, and other forms of general public assistance, just to name a few.

How do I calculate Child Support?

The state of North Carolina provides on-line worksheets to help determine the amount of support required by a parent. Custody issues must have been resolved, at least on a temporary basis, as the worksheets differ depending on the custody time arrangement that applies.

Can my child support amount be changed?

From time to time, the amount of child support as determined by these Guidelines may not meet the needs of the child.  If a parent wishes to change and modify the child support amount required, he or she can request a hearing with the assigned judge. The judge has the authority to adjust the amount of support up or down, depending on the evidence presented (and according to the Guidelines), so long as the judge is satisfied that a “substantial change” of circumstances has occurred since the entry of the existing order, i.e., the order that you are requesting to change. According to the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines, if the amount of child support ordered under the existing order is 15% different (more or less) than the suggested new amount, based on the changed incomes of the parties and/or relevant expenses of the child that may have changed, then the court will presume that the child support amount should be modified. In such case, the court will most likely change the child support amount ordered.     

How does child support work? At a time when you’re vulnerable both financially and emotionally, you need the advice of an experienced North Carolina attorney. At Montgomery Family Law, we’re ready to listen to your concerns, organize the crucial information, and help facilitate the best possible outcome for your unique situation. Call us today at (919) 339-1919 or use our contact form to arrange for an initial consultation.

For further assistance, please use the contact tab at the top of the page!

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Understanding Post-Separation Support

Post-Separation Support

by Attorney Charles Montgomery

It costs more to run two households than it does to run one. It stands to reason that a dependent spouse may have problems making ends meet while going through the process of divorce. “Post-separation support” (temporary alimony) is a form of spousal support meant to bridge the gap between the time when one first separates from his or her spouse and obtaining long-term spousal support, called alimony.

What is post-separation support?

Post-separation support is temporary support awarded for a finite period of time, typically 12 months or until the time of the trial on alimony. Unlike the typical child support determination, the process through which post-separation support is determined can be quite subjective. Whereas the former is typically determined by a set formula based on incomes, the amount and duration of post-separation support is at the discretion of the court. While based primarily on financial grounds, a judge may also consider marital misconduct in determining the terms of post-separation support.

In North Carolina, spousal support is not intended to be punitive in nature but rather rehabilitative. When determining the terms of post-separation support (temporary alimony), an emphasis is placed on financial conditions as opposed to marital misconduct.

How can I get post-separation support?

Governed under the rules of statute NCGS § 50-16.2A, the following conditions must be met before an award of post-separation support will be granted:

  • The parties involved were lawfully married;
  • The party seeking support is a dependent spouse;
  • The party from whom support is sought is a supporting spouse;
  • The dependent spouse does not have the resources to meet his or her needs;
  • The supporting spouse has the ability to pay support.

If all of the above conditions are met, the court must award some amount of post-separation support; however, the amount is well within the discretion of the presiding judge. Further, the determination of what constitutes a “support spouse” and a “dependent spouse” is within the broad discretion of the judge, depending on the particular facts presented into evidence. Because post-separation support is temporary in nature, any such award is typically very difficult to appeal, as the North Carolina Court of Appeals in most cases considers such appeals “interlocutory” and not subject to being overturned.

For what period of time can I get post separation support?

While post-separation support (temporary alimony) typically runs until a predetermined period of time, the events below may trigger termination of post separation support payments:

  • The “dependent spouse” lands a job and is therefore able to meet his or her expenses;
  • The parties reconcile and resume a marital relationship;
  • The predetermined period of time elapses, typically 12 months or until the trial on alimony, whichever is sooner.

The divorce process can be confusing and needlessly stressful without the help of an experienced family law attorney. Not only is it important to have the support of friends, family, but also that of an experienced, knowledgeable divorce attorney. Charles H. Montgomery and Montgomery Family Law are there for those in need of wise counsel on matters of divorce and post-separation support, bringing a combined 45 years of family law experience for the benefit of our clients. To schedule an appointment to speak with one of our North Carolina family law attorneys, give us a call at (919) 339-1919.

For further assistance, please use the contact tab at the top of the page!

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How Do I Change My Name After A Divorce?

Name Change After Divorce

by Associate Scott Montgomery

While changing your name after a divorce might seem like the last of your concerns, you may choose to do so, as it can help bring closure. If you’ve asked yourself: “How do I change my name after my divorce?” there is no need to worry. It may seem complicated, but actually the process is fairly straightforward.

You may petition to change your name at the time of divorce in conjunction with the filed divorce complaint (by including this request in the complaint for divorce itself) or, alternatively, opt to do so at any point in time after the divorce decree has been finalized.  Resumption of your former name is available to both men and women (See N.C.G.S. §50-12). If you wish to resume use of your former name, you should let your divorce attorney know to include this request in the Complaint for Divorce, as this will save you the trouble of having to submit a separate name change request later.

Our state has a specific statute governing name change in conjunction withdivorce in North Carolina. The statute provides for one of these three options:

  • You can change your last name back to a maiden name
  • You can change your last name back to that of a previous deceased husband

OR

  • You can change your last name to that of a former living husband, but only if the children from that marriage carry that last name.

If you do not include a proper request for resumption of your former name in the complaint for divorce, following the divorce, it will be necessary to complete an official “APPLICATION/NOTICE OF RESUMPTION OF FORMER NAME”  (form AOC-SP-600) and submit it to the Clerk of Court of the county in which you reside. The name change application form is available at your county courthouse. You can simply report to the Civil Division at the courthouse and request a copy from the Clerk of Court.

Where should I file my petition?

Once completed, the form must be returned to the Clerk’s Office, Civil Division, of the same courthouse. In addition to the completed form, you will be asked to provide a valid picture ID, a finalized divorce decree, and the required filing fee of $10.00.

Who must I notify of my name change?

Once the petition has been granted, there are a few additional steps you must take. For example, the change should be reflected in other important documents such as your driver’s license and social security card. Additionally, you should contact credit card companies and your utility providers to advise them of the change. Those who travel will want to be sure to change the name on their passport.

How do I change my name after a divorce?

Changing your name after a divorce is not as complicated as one might think. However, should you require the guidance of the experienced divorce attorneys at Montgomery Family Law, we’ll be happy to guide you through the process and help you navigate through any potential problems. Give us a call at (919) 339-1919 and arrange for a consultation today.

For further assistance, please use the contact tab at the top of the page!

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How Do I File For a Divorce in North Carolina?

How Do I File For Divorce In NC

Let’s assume for a moment that you’ve met the minimum requirements for filing for divorce in North Carolina. You’ve been a resident of the state for 6 months and have lived apart from your spouse for at least one full year prior to the day that you file for divorce. At this point, you may be asking yourself…

What do I do now?

The process of divorce can be trying, even under the best of circumstances. Before proceeding, it is advised that you consult an attorney – one well versed in divorce and family law. Should you decide to move forward without legal representation, you will be expected to know the law to the same extent as a licensed attorney in the state of North Carolina. You’ll need to research and review applicable laws, familiarize yourself with civil procedure, and be able to apply what you’ve learned to your specific situation. Filing for divorce will require that you properly file and serve on your spouse a North Carolina Civil Summons and a Complaint for Divorce.  Service of these documents must be done in a manner acceptable under the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure.

After researching the applicable laws, you may have more questions than answers. Beware of legal advice provided by anyone other than a licensed attorney admitted to practice in North Carolina. Before you file for divorce, even if you eventually decide to file for divorce yourself, it is most advisable to consult with a North Carolina Family Law Attorney before you take any action. Call Montgomery Family Law today at (919) 335-3929.

For further assistance, please use the contact tab at the top of the page!

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Can I Date While Separated?

Can I Date While Separated

Others may have encouraged you to do so, advising you that making social acquaintances outside of your married circle of friends will be therapeutic. It’s important for your self-esteem, you tell yourself.  And besides, you and your spouse have verbally agreed to date other people.

Not so fast.

The answer to the question, “Can I date while separated?” is more complex than one may think. Dating while separated can complicate eventual legal proceedings and damage your chances of a favorable resolution.

If children are involved, this could detrimentally affect your custody or visitation rights. Judges tend to look disfavourably on introducing children to new romantic partners too soon after a separation. Even if the marriage produced no children, prematurely “moving on” can complicate a property settlement or invite a lawsuit against the “the other man” or “other woman.” While “the other man” or “other woman” can no longer successfully be sued if the new relationship started after the date of separation, evidence proving that a relationship existed shortly after the date of separation can be used to help prove that a relationship existed prior to the date of separation.

Dating and Child Custody

Seeing you with someone other than your spouse can make your children very uncomfortable. Introducing children to a new romantic partner is a process that must be done with care. In a child custody case, the judge must decide what is in the best interest of the children when determining the custody rights of each parent. A judge could consider introducing a new romantic partner to the children too soon as being not in their best interests.

Simply having your new partner stay overnight while your children are present could be sufficient grounds for limitation of your custody and/or visitation rights. Each child custody case is different, depending on the unique circumstances involved. It is important that you consult with an experienced and knowledgeable family law attorney before you make decisions that could affect your child custody and visitation rights.

Alienation of Affection

In North Carolina, a jilted spouse can sue the other man or other woman by bringing a lawsuit for “alienation of affection.” Essentially, your spouse can sue your girlfriend or boyfriend for “alienating” your affections and damaging your marriage if the alienating activity started prior to your date of permanent separation. To add insult to injury, one need not even have engaged in sexual activity to invite an alienation of affection suit against this new partner.

Can I Date While Separated?

In many cases, particularly if you are the spouse claiming alimony, this is not advisable. In addition to the complications discussed above, it could adversely affect your claim for alimony – or whether you receive any alimony at all. In North Carolina, “cohabitation,” (as defined by N.C.G.S. § 50-16.9) with a romantic partner is a ground to terminate your right to receive alimony. Be aware that you will very likely be asked under oath about any dating or romantic relationships. Answering this question less than truthfully would constitute perjury.

Think twice before you begin a new relationship. Better yet, don’t wait until divorce proceedings are imminent to consult an attorney with a thorough knowledge of North Carolina divorce law and what implications, if any, dating will have.

The experienced family law attorneys at Montgomery Family Law are ready to help you with any question you may have regarding separation, divorce, and best practices. Call us today to schedule an initial consultation and learn more about our services.

For further assistance, please use the contact tab at the top of the page!

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