Wrubluski v. Wrubluski (North Carolina 2020)
A parent can’t modify child support without a court order. The husband and wife divorced, and the wife was granted custody of their children. Two of the children began to live with the father. He began paying half of the support amount. He eventually filed to modify custody and support. Post-divorce litigation ensued. After several hearings, the trial court granted his motion, set a new support obligation, and entered a judgment for arrears. The husband appealed the arrears judgment. He argued the trial court incorrectly calculated arrears for the period of time he had the children prior to filing for the modification. The appellate court upheld this decision. It found the father couldn’t unilaterally modify support. The appellate court also found the trial court incorrectly categorized money that the father paid the mother as post-separation support during a period of time that she was ineligible for post-separation support. The money should have been credited as child support, so the appellate court remanded the case for a recalculation of the arrears balance for this timeframe.