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Understanding Child Support Laws with Jonathan Breeden
Episode 2629th April 2024 • Best of Johnston County • Jonathan Breeden
00:00:00 00:22:55

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In this special "Ask Anything" edition, delve into the often complex world of child support in North Carolina. Discover how it's calculated, the impact of not paying, and how orders can change over time. Whether navigating a personal situation or simply curious about family law, this episode offers valuable insights directly from the legal field.

Don't miss out on expert advice and answers to common questions that can help guide anyone through the intricacies of child support laws. Tune in to The Best of Johnston County Podcast to learn more and empower yourself with knowledge!


Jonathan Breeden: [:

A separation agreement is a stagnant contract that is fully binding and is held to the four corners of the document on the date it's signed. The children may be minors for another 15, 16 years and everybody's financial situations, their needs are going to change.

And if you've got it in a separation agreement, a court very well may depending on how it's worded hold you to that amount when a actual child support amount through a court order could be two or three times that amount within 5, 6, 7, 8 years. Which is why it is not good to put child support in a separation agreement.

o you by Breeden Law Office. [:

rch, is going to ask me some [:

re at my legal office here at:

Raena Burch: Well, I mean, You've been batting a thousand so far with all these questions.

Jonathan Breeden: Okay. All right, sounds good.

Raena Burch: All right. First question, how is child support calculated?

t costs to figure out what a [:

And they look at inflation, they look at the cost of housing, they look at food, and they look at all of the different sort of inputs it takes to raise a child in North Carolina and how those have changed up or down in the three years since they previously looked at it. I believe that they hire experts to come in and help them with these numbers.

different than the child of [:

And so the amount of child support that a doctor would have to pay is going to be higher than the amount of child support that a teacher would have to pay. But all of this is done through these, basically one gigantic actuarial table. It's in the statute if you want to Google it. That they make that the legislature adopts and it just lays out basically for one kid at one at a combined income of the parents of one number it is X.

. And now that needs to be [:

And then after you get the basic number. They then add in daycare, private school, health insurance, extraordinary expenses things that most kids don't have, to add to that base amount child support number that ultimately gets divided as a percentage of the parent's combined incomes and the percentage of the number of overnights in a year that the parents have.

So that is somewhat of a long winded answer of how is child support calculated, but basically you take these actuarial tables, you plug them into a formula. You can do it on the website and it gives you an approximate amount of what the child support should be.

Raena Burch: Yeah, and there's different worksheets for different types. So, if you've got sole custody or most, you know, or if you have 50 50. Right,

ajority of the time. And the [:

Raena Burch: Okay.

Jonathan Breeden: And

All of these worksheets, and I don't understand the math on the back of them.

I am not a math person, which is why I went to law school, but they basically are running certain formulas onto this actuarial table to determine who owes what in child support.

Raena Burch: Got it, okay. What happens if you don't pay your child support?

le listening to this podcast [:

They, Most people go to the child support worksheet online and they sort of figure it out themselves. They come to a verbal agreement and they just agree that you're going to pay me $500 a month and that's how they go with it. But and if you don't do that and you violate the verbal agreement, then the party that should be getting the child support has the right to hire an Attorney like the Breeden Law Office or go to child support enforcement and go to court and get a child support order signed by a judge.

If you have a child support order signed by a judge, which means it's an order of the court and you don't pay your child support, you can be found in contempt of court. And so what happens is either the child support agency or an Attorney like the Breeden Law Office, Jonathan Breeden, or one of the associates here, will file what is called a motion to show cause against you, where they're asking the court for you to show cause.

be held in contempt of court [:

ere's a lot of things if you [:

So, like, it doesn't stop when they turn 18 if you didn't pay your child support as they were coming along as you should have.


Raena Burch: How often is child support reviewed? Like you said, the board gets together every three years, but like each individual family. Like, how often is that reviewed? When do they review it?

Jonathan Breeden: A child support order, once again, we're talking about a child support order signed by a judge, not your verbal agreement that most people have. A child support order signed by a judge is reviewable at any time based on a motion of either party, either the payor or the payee. If they can show or believe they can show that the amount owed would go up or down more than 15%.

percent not one [:

And of course, if you go from a full time employment to unemployment, which I think is a maximum of like $330 a week, that's going to cause the amount owed to go down more than 15% and you can get a new child support order that for six months or so until you can get another job and then they can refigure it based on your new income.

more than three year review [:

Raena Burch: Yeah.

Jonathan Breeden: Your child support could go up, even if the numbers stayed the same or even if you started making a little bit less. Because it costs more and more money every year to raise children. You know that, I know that, everybody listening knows that, you know what I'm saying? So that's a part of it too.

Raena Burch: Okay.

Jonathan Breeden: But you have to file a motion, you have to go to court and get a new court order.

Raena Burch: Yes.

Jonathan Breeden: To get your court ordered child support changed. If you want to change your verbal agreement, you call the other side and see if they'll just agree.

% difference in [:

That is a big income versus you know, hundreds of thousands of dollars versus,

Jonathan Breeden: right,

Raena Burch: a couple thousand dollars or you know, however much a couple hundred dollars, right?

Right. 50% of each is different huge different.

Right. Well,

Jonathan Breeden: And the biggest thing we see a lot of times here is, the spouse often the wife either has not been working and is coming into the workforce. When we initially do a child support order. And then, six months a year into the separation, into the divorce, they're now in the workforce full time.

Maybe they've gotten a job back in their field and they're making substantially more money than they were earning the first time. But that doesn't mean, particularly if it's Schedule A and they've got primary custody and that non custodial parent doesn't have 124 nights a year, just because the wife's income went from $15,000 maybe part time to $35,000 full time.

ecause their income went up. [:

Now, if you only have a temporary child support order, it's modifiable at any point by a motion. So you got to, If it's temporary or if it's permanent, that makes a difference too.

Raena Burch: Got it, okay. How long is a temporary child support order normally last?

Jonathan Breeden: It lasts until it's replaced by a permanent order.

Raena Burch: Okay.

Jonathan Breeden: so

it can last forever unless it gets replaced by a permanent child support order.

Raena Burch: Got it, okay. Is child support required in North Carolina or can parents agree to no support?

Jonathan Breeden: Parents can agree to no support and it is not quote unquote required. The law says that each parent has a duty of support to their child.

t of people, particularly in [:

So those parents often don't do a child support order. But those parents are providing a duty of support because they are supporting their children. They're just not paying it to the other side. So, the parents can choose to not seek child support from each other. If they don't want to and they can verbally agree to an amount that they believe meets the needs of the children.

And I think as long as both parents are participating and they're helping, I think they are meeting their statutorial obligation of a duty of support to their child. Now, if the other parent is just gone and unfortunately we see a fair number of those then, you know, you're going to need to go get a child support order to try to enforce anything at all. Because they're not providing any of the day to day support.

They're not [:

Raena Burch: It is

Jonathan Breeden: that's how some people choose to be parents. Right.

Have family law questions? Need guidance to navigate legal challenges? The compassionate team at Breeden Law Office is here to help. Visit us at www. breedenfirm. com for practical advice, resources, or to book a consultation. Remember, when life gets messy, you don't have to face it alone.

Raena Burch: All right. So, Last question, does a separation agreement affect child support in a negative way or do you think a positive way?

to a separation agreement. A [:

And so in that scenario, if Raena and I are getting divorced and we had a separation agreement, I would have to sue you for breach of contract. And we wouldn't go to domestic court. We would go to contract court and the remedies for breach of contract are not as robust as they are for breach of a court order of child support.

You're not going to jail for breaching a contract. But you will go to jail for breaching a court order for child support. So, what I always advise is that if you have an agreement on the child support, don't put it in the separation agreement, put it into a child support consent order. Child support inherently is going to change through the life of the child.

a stagnant contract that is [:

ow how you came up with that [:

And so it's going to say, that's the bargain for exchange and that's what the person owes. I've seen that work for the good and bad. If you're in the military and you end up doing a child support in a consent order and you come out of the military and you're making a lot less, which a lot of military members do when they come out. The court is going to hold you to the child support that you put in the separation agreement, even though you're not earning that amount of money anymore.

That's a problem, but it also can go the other way. Where you put child support into a separation agreement and let's say the husband's making $60 and the wife's making $60 and five years from now, the wife's making $120 and the husband's making $90. Well that child support should be substantially different.

nsent of both parties. Well, [:

If the separation agreement clearly states that the amount of child support is based on the guidelines or is remotely close to the guidelines and is modifiable in the future by either party motioning a court of competent jurisdiction. If that line's not there. The court is going to hold both parties to the amount of child support that's in that contract forever. Which is not always what's best for the child.

Raena Burch: No,

Jonathan Breeden: well, and

Raena Burch: if it's already in the separation agreement, but the other party won't consent to raise it. Can somebody file with child support services to get a court ordered child support? as long as the

Based on the current circumstances?

as the separation agreement [:

Raena Burch: Okay.

Jonathan Breeden: There are situations where the custodial schedule has completely switched. That might allow the court to then come in and award some child support, but that gets real complicated. And you definitely need to talk to a lawyer about that. But that's why it's our advice. And we could talk for another hour about this to leave child support. Because it's inherently changeable and going to need to change out of separation agreements.

Raena Burch: Okay.

Jonathan Breeden: But you can do it and people do it. But it needs to have the right wording if you're going to. Because nobody wants to be held to the child support You know, it's 10 years old, right? Right. Okay. I don't think that's right.

Raena Burch: Yeah.

I mean

Jonathan Breeden: the person paying me because it's often gonna go up.

Raena Burch: Yeah. Yeah, that's true. All right Well

good. All right.


Jonathan Breeden: I hope [:

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rris. County Parks, Director [:

Until next time, I'm your host, Jonathan Breeden.

That's the end of today's episode of Best of Johnston County, a show brought to you by the trusted team at Breeden Law Office. We thank you for joining us today and we look forward to sharing more interesting facets of this community next week. Every story, every viewpoint adds another thread to the rich tapestry of Johnston County.

If the legal aspects highlighted raised some questions, help is just around the corner at www. breedenfirm. com.





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