The Pew Research Center recently published findings from a study that examined the American public’s concepts of marriage, family and children. According to the report, “The Decline of Marriage and Rise of New Families,” published November 18, 2010, the number of Americans who are married, or who have been married, has diminished to a mere 52 percent (2008). This statistic is down from the 72 percent of adult Americans who were married in 1960. While the number of marriages in the United States is down among adults, the number of children living in modified families, such as multi-generational households and separated or divorced parents, is relatively high. The North Carolina family law attorneys of Gailor, Wallis and Hunt believe this change in the family paradigm is a product of young adults’ behaviors and attitudes. When it comes to adults between the ages of 20 and 29, only 26 percent are married, as opposed to 68 percent of this demographic being married in 1960. While perceptions and behaviors are changing, there is still a need to protect yourself and your children, as remarriage, cohabitation and child rearing are always accompanied by legal ramifications.
According to the Pew study, the changes in marital patterns have impacted the lives of children involved in non-traditional unions. As many adults no longer consider marriage a prerequisite for parenthood, the amount of children born into unmarried households has increased 8-fold. From 1960 to 2008, the percentage of children born to a single mother has increased from 5 percent to 41 percent. As a result, the number of children under the age of 18 who have been, or are currently being raised by two married parents has decreased from 87 percent in the 1960’s to 64 percent in 2008. The study did not state whether the non-custodial parent was paying or the custodial parent receiving child support, but the North Carolina divorce attorneys of Gailor, Wallis and Hunt point out its importance.
According to the attorneys of Gailor, Wallis and Hunt, North Carolina parents have a legal obligation to financially support their children until they reach 18 years of age, have completed high school or are emancipated. While the amount of support required from parents varies from household to household, the sums are typically decided by the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines. However, either party can request a deviation from the Guidelines under particular circumstances and the Guidelines do not apply above a certain combined income level. Under the Guidelines, the amount of the payments are generally based on the combined gross incomes of the parties and the number of nights the child(ren) spend with each parent. If the Guidelines do not apply, then a judge may decide the amount of child support to be paid based generally on the reasonable needs of the children and the ability of the parents to pay. When deciding upon child support payments, one parent is typically ordered to provide monthly sums to the other parent. Judges are the sole deciders of child support; there is no jury in these cases.
Furthermore, child support is required until the child turns 18 and completes high school or is legally emancipated. While the court can require child support to continue until the age of 20 if the child is not finished with high school (whichever comes first), the judge cannot legally order a parent to pay college tuition. A court also does not have the power to require a parent to maintain a life insurance policy for the child. The Raleigh, North Carolina divorce lawyers of Gailor, Wallis and Hunt explain that courts enlist many variables in determining child support. And as each case is different, every case sees a different result. If you find yourself in the situation where obtaining child support is a necessity, it is important that you contact a lawyer skilled in this aspect of family law.
While the American public is changing its opinion on the necessity of traditional child rearing – almost half of Americans under the age of 30 see modified family arrangements as a positive, according to the Pew report – 72 percent of these Americans believe in dual-income households and joint child-care responsibilities. Whether couples are married, cohabitating or separated and/or divorced, both parties must contribute to the wellbeing of their children. The North Carolina family attorneys of Gailor, Wallis and Hunt can help ensure that happens. As one of North Carolina’s most accomplished family law firms, the lawyers of GW&H can respond to and litigate any issue no matter how multi-faceted or complex.
To contact any of the attorneys at Gailor, Wallis and Hunt, call them at (866) 362-7586, or visit their website.
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