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Social Security and Child Support

Suppose you are separated or divorced, or you have recently retired or been placed on disability, and are the parent of a minor child. If you receive dependent benefits through Social Security or the Veterans Administration, your child support obligation may be reduced or eliminated, provided you are not behind or delinquent on your current court-ordered payments.

The North Carolina Child Support Guidelines consider Social Security benefits as income in determining the non-custodial parent’s child support obligation. Under the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines, benefits received by the retired or disabled parent for the benefit of the child is income; however, the portion of the benefits for the child is deductible from that parent’s child support obligation if the benefits are paid to the custodial parent. If the dependent benefits exceed the obligor’s child support obligation, the court should not enter an order for prospective child support unless the court deviates from the Child Support Guidelines.

Suppose you have a current child support order and are receiving dependent benefits due to retirement or disability. In that case, you must continue making the required payments until the current order is modified. Under N.C.G.S. § 50-13.7(a), a child support order may be modified or vacated at any time, upon motion to the court, if there is a change of circumstances. If you recently retired or were placed on disability, you may qualify for the change in circumstances. A significant reduction of income due to retirement or disability would likely qualify as a change in circumstances. Bear in mind, however, that failure to pay court-ordered child support can lead to a charge of contempt of court, including attorney fees, and potentially jail time.

Seeking the advice of a qualified family law attorney to determine how your retirement or disability benefits will be applied to current or upcoming child support obligations can save time, headaches, and further legal issues when it comes to child support.