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Is international Child Support permitted in North Carolina?

Yes, international recognition for child support is provided under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA).  Under this act, a parent located outside the United States can petition through the Interstate Central Registry Child Support Enforcement Division for a new child support case.  Normally, a local consulate office engages in assisting the foreign resident in preparing and filing the petition which is then docketed with the county in which the obligated parent resides.  

–       What if the “cost of living” in the foreign country is substantially lower than in North Carolina? 

This generally becomes the most contested issue in an international child support case. The state of North Carolina provides presumptive guidelines regarding the amount of child support that the obligated parent will be required to pay. Currently, no case law indicates that the “cost of living,” alone would be sufficient for the court to reduce the amount of child support. However, it is worth noting that a party who wishes to challenge the presumptive amount may ask the court to deviate from the standard guidelines.  Under N.C. Gen. Stat. §50-13.4(c), the law states:

“If, after considering the evidence, the Court finds by the greater weight of the evidence that the application of the guidelines would not meet or would exceed the reasonable needs of the child considering the relative ability of each parent to provide support or would be otherwise unjust or inappropriate the Court may vary from the guidelines.”

A party asking to deviate would be required to submit evidence establishing that the cost of living is drastically less in the foreign country than in the United States.  Those who can assist with establishing such evidence would include experts such as attorneys and economists familiar with the cost of living in the foreign country. Also, a party should keep in mind that many of these experts are located in the foreign country and that their testimony can be offered by video conference.  Another important, and often missed detail, is to remember that the court interpreter cannot translate documents or videos that are presented to the court during the hearing.  Hence, it is important to make sure that the evidence that will be submitted to the court has been properly translated beforehand. 

The office of A.G. Linett & Associates has helped clients with international child support matters.  If you believe we can be of assistance, please contact us to schedule an appointment. 

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