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North Carolina's Requirements for Reporting Income Changes for Child Support

Understanding North Carolina's Child Support Income Reporting Obligations

In North Carolina, the child support system is designed to ensure that children receive the financial support necessary for their well-being. This support is generally determined through a formula that considers both parents' incomes, among other factors. As such, it is critical for parents to accurately report any income changes as they occur, to maintain fair and equitable child support arrangements.

Legal Requirements for Reporting Income Changes

North Carolina General Statute ยง 50-13.10 requires any parent who is subject to a child support order to inform the other parent and the court of any significant change in financial status. This reporting should be done promptly, generally within ten (10) days of the change. A 'significant change' can be an increase or decrease in income, loss of employment, or a new job.

How to Report Income Changes

To report these changes, a parent must file a motion with the court that issued the original child support order. They may also need to provide documentation such as pay stubs, tax returns, or employer letters to verify the change in income. It's important to note that simply informing the other parent is not sufficient; official documentation must be filed with the court to adjust child support payments legally.

Consequences of Failing to Report

Failing to report income changes can lead to serious consequences. If a parent knowingly fails to disclose a significant increase in income, they can be held in contempt of court. This can result in fines or even jail time. Conversely, if a parent loses their job or experiences a pay cut and does not report this change, they could be held responsible for child support payments based on their previous higher income level.

Case Example: Smith v. Jones (2005)

An illustrative case is Smith v. Jones (2005), where the father experienced a significant increase in income but did not report it. The mother, suspecting this change due to lifestyle indicators, filed a motion for modification of child support. The court found the father in contempt for failing to report his increased earnings and retroactively increased his child support payments.

Best Practices for Compliance

The best practice for parents is to proactively report any income changes as soon as they occur. Keeping accurate records and providing them to the court ensures transparency and fairness in child support calculations.


Parents in North Carolina should be diligent in reporting changes to their financial circumstances to avoid legal repercussions and ensure their child support obligations reflect their current ability to pay. This requirement upholds the principle that child support is a dynamic obligation that must align with parents' present financial realities.