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North Carolina Child Support
Child Support in North Carolina

In North Carolina, both parents are considered responsible for the support of a minor child. Either parent may be ordered to pay child support. The factors the courts consider are:

  • the reasonable needs of the child;
  • the earnings, conditions and standard of living the child enjoys;
  • the child care and home making contributions of each parent;
  • any joint or shared custody arrangements;
  • the parent's ability to pay;
  • the parent's own special needs;
  • any other support provided to the child, such as work related day care, medical expenses, health insurance coverage;
  • any prior obligations of a parent to pay child support or alimony;
  • and any other relevant factors.

Payments ordered for the support of a minor child are paid monthly.

Courts use the official North Carolina Child Support guidelines to determine child support. Unless the parents agree to an amount other than that calculated by the guidelines, or the courts decide the guidelines are unjust for a particular case, these guidelines will be followed.

Child support worksheets are also provided. Payments may be required to be paid through the clerk of the court. Income withholding may be used if child support payments become delinquent. Courts may require that Child support obligations be secured by a bond or mortgage. The court may require a parent to provide health insurance coverage for a child. This comes from General Statutes of North Carolina; Chapter 50, Section 50-13.4. Child Support Guidelines and Worksheets are contained in the Annotated Rules of North Carolina.

North Carolina child support is typically calculated by using a Child Support Worksheet. The worksheet generates an appropriate North Carolina child support obligation according to each spouse's income and other factors such as taxes paid and retirement contributions. Once this amount is determined it is essential to take a look at any appropriate North Carolina child support deviation factors that may be applicable to the situation. Additional information about North Carolina child support can be found in the North Carolina state statutes.

North Carolina uses the Income Shares Model to determine the amount of child support the noncustodial parent must pay. The Income Shares Model estimates the amount of support that would have been available if the marriage had not failed. This estimated amount is then divided proportionally to the parents according to each parent's income. It is easy to do this using the North Carolina child support worksheet. Pay records typically substantiate the estimated incomes.

This routine takes into account both parents' gross income and applies a percentage to it based on the number of minor children they have together. The court takes the combined income of both parents and works out the proportion each contributes. That figure is then divided proportionately based on each parent's ability to pay and which parent has primary custody.

If the noncustodial parent has a higher income than the custodial parent, the noncustodial parent would then be responsible for the greater portion of the child support obligation; conversely, if the noncustodial parent has a lower income than the custodial, the noncustodial parent would then be responsible for the smaller portion of the child support obligation.

Calculate North Carolina Child Support

Other Expenses and Deductions

Extraordinary expenses are either add-ons, where the expense is added to the support payment, or deductions, where the amount is deducted, and indicated as either mandatory or permissive. Childcare is considered a deviation factor. Both childcare and extraordinary medical expenses are mandatory deductions, so extraordinary medical expenses and childcare are all considered add-ons by the court, as is secondary education. Private school tuition is a permissive add-on.

A support order may require that a parent be responsible for an insurance policy covering the child's medical, hospital, and other health care expenses.

Visitation expenses are not part of the schedule.

When the supporting parent faces small or minimal income tax liability, the court may deviate from the guidelines and order that the custodial parent assign the exemption to the supporting parent.

Reasonable child care costs that are, or will be, paid by a parent due to employment or job search are added to the basic child support obligation and prorated between the parents based on their respective incomes. Other reasonable childcare costs, such as childcare costs incurred while the custodial parent attends school, may be the basis for a deviation.

Child Support Enforcement

Child support is available under North Carolina law during a child's minority (until age 18). If a child is otherwise emancipated prior to age 18, child support ends at that earlier age under current law. There are, however, also three situations in which child support can run past the age of majority. One happens when a child who has not yet, as of age 18, graduated from high school. Provided the child is enrolled in secondary school, child support continues until age 20 or graduation from high school, whichever comes first. The second is a parent's written agreement to pay support past the age of the child's minority. If such a contract is valid and enforceable, the court can impose the post-majority obligation spelled out in the contract. The final exception concerns a child who, post-minority, remains mentally or physically incapable of self-support. In this situation, the child support obligation exists for as long as the child is incapable of self-support.

More information about North Carolina Child Support Enforcement can be found at their website.

Deviation Factors

The court may deviate from North Carolina child support guidelines when it finds that their application "would not meet, or would exceed, the reasonable needs of the child." If the court deviates from the guidelines, the court must make written findings:

  • stating the amount of the supporting parent's presumptive child support obligation determined pursuant to these guidelines;
  • determining the reasonable needs of the child and the relative ability of each parent to provide support;
  • supporting the court's conclusion that the presumptive amount of child support determined under the guidelines is inadequate or excessive or that application of the guidelines is otherwise unjust or inappropriate; and
  • stating the basis on which the court determined the amount of child support ordered.

One example of a reason to deviate may be when one parent pays 100% of the child support obligation and 100% of the insurance premium.

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