It’s always a good idea to take another look at how much you are paying for child support when these guidelines are revised.
Raleigh, North Carolina (Vocus/PRWEB) March 08, 2011
Raleigh family lawyer Charles R. Ullman said today that parents paying child support should revisit the amount of their obligations in light of several subtle, but important changes to the N.C. Child Support Guideline that took effect January 1.
“It’s always a good idea to take another look at how much you are paying for child support when these guidelines are revised,” said Ullman, the founder of Charles R. Ullman & Associates, a Raleigh law firm that represents parents in child support matters across North Carolina as well as in other family law and domestic issues.
Ullman said that other times to revisit child support obligations are when custody arrangements change, a child ages out of being included in the guidelines, the parent’s income changes, when the amount paid for health insurance or day care is modified or when uninsured medical expenses change substantially due to matters such as an orthodontic bill or surgery.
“When these events occur, the result may be that your child support obligations should be decreased,” Ullman said. “For instance, the latest revisions to the state’s Child Support Guidelines contain several changes to the way a parent’s income is calculated for the purpose of determining the parent’s support payments. This now includes the exclusion of the support a parent received for another child, which could impact numerous parents.”
Mandatory presumptive guidelines for calculating child support obligations have been in place in North Carolina since 1990. Every four years, the guidelines are revised by the N.C. Conference of Chief District Court Judges. The prior changes occurred in 2006.
When computing child support obligations, the guidelines use the parent’s gross income, which means the income before deductions for state, federal, Social Security and Medicare taxes and other amounts withheld from income, such as health insurance premiums.
Under the old guidelines, the amount of child support a parent received for a child that was not a child of the parties could be used to calculate the parent’s income when determining the support obligations for another child. Under the revised guidelines, however, income in the form of child support for another child is specifically excluded from being considered in the computation.
“Under the old guidelines, you were basically taking away funds that had been earmarked for the other child,” Ullman said. “This is an example of a fair, common sense change to the rules.”
The new guidelines also will exclude from income the amounts that are paid by a parent’s employer directly to a third party on the parent’s behalf and which are not considered by the employer to be a part of the parent’s salary.
“These amounts could include the employer’s required share of Social Security and Medicare taxes as well as direct contributions to health, disability, life insurance or retirement accounts which are not deducted from the parent’s salary,” Ullman said.
Among other changes in the new guidelines are:
- Preexisting support obligations. Preexisting support obligations can be deducted from a parent’s gross income, but arrears payments cannot be deducted.
- Responsibility for other children. Under the old guidelines, the deduction that a parent received for supporting another child was reduced by one-half if the other parent of the child lived in the home. Now, the other parent’s income will not be considered.
- Retroactive child support. The revised guidelines make it clear that a court cannot order retroactive support payments that are different from the amount agreed upon by the parties in a prior agreement or from the amount that the guidelines called for at that time.
- Child care costs. Although reasonable child care expenses can be added to a parent’s child support obligations when the other parent needs child care for employment or job search reasons, this amount is not required when the child care is needed for other reasons.
“If a parent believes that these changes to the guidelines may impact their child support obligations, it’s important to contact an experienced family law attorney,” Ullman said.
About Charles R. Ullman & Associates
The law firm of Charles R. Ullman & Associates, located on 109 S. Bloodworth St. in Raleigh, N.C., concentrates on family law, including divorce, child custody, child support, visitation, alimony, post-separation support and equitable distribution. Ullman is also a trained collaborative law attorney. For more information, contact the firm by calling (919) 829-1006 or use the online contact form.