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Quick Facts on Child Support

Any person or entity with custody of a minor child may seek support for that child from the parents of the child.

Although a non-parent with custody of a minor child may request and receive support for the child, a parent can not request and receive child support from a non-parent third party unless that third party has assumed the obligation of support in writing.

The criteria used to calculate child support are:

  • The reasonable needs of the child for his health;
  • The reasonable needs of the child for his education;
  • The reasonable needs of the child for his maintenance;
  • In determining the above, due regard must be given to the following:
    • The estates of the child and the parties;
    • The earnings of the child and the parties;
    • The conditions of the child and the parties;
    • The accustomed standard of living of the child and the parties;
    • The childcare and homemaker contributions of each party; and
    • The other facts of the particular case.

North Carolina typically requires that child support shall be calculated by use of presumptive guidelines and that these guidelines apply as a rebuttable presumption in all legal proceedings involving the child support obligation of a parent.

The guidelines presume that the parent who receives child support is entitled to and does claim the children for all tax exemption purposes.

Income is defined as a parent's actual gross income from any source including but not limited to the following;

  • Income from employment or self-employment such as salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, dividends, severance pay;
  • Ownership or operation of a business, partnership, or corporation;
  • Rental of property;
  • Retirement or pensions;
  • Interest;
  • Trusts;
  • Annuities;
  • Capital gains;
  • Social Security benefits;
  • Workers' compensation benefits;
  • Unemployment insurance benefits;
  • Disability pay and insurance benefits;
  • Gifts;
  • Prizes; and
  • Alimony or maintenance received from persons other than the parties to this case.

Child support may be calculated on a parent's potential, rather than actual, income under certain circumstances. The circumstances are:

  • The parent must be either voluntarily unemployed or underemployed to the extent that he cannot provide a minimum level of support for himself and his children; and
  • The parent is physically and mentally capable of providing the minimum level of support for himself and his children; and
  • The voluntary unemployment or underemployment is the result of the parent's bad faith or deliberate suppression of income in order to avoid or minimize his child support obligation.

In calculating child support, North Carolina's guidelines allow the parties to take into consideration pre-existing child support obligations for other children not living with the parent as well as responsibility for other children that do reside with the parent.

Once the basic child support obligation has been arrived at, certain adjustments may be made by the Court for work-related child care costs, health insurance costs, and extraordinary costs, in order to calculate the final child support obligation.

Extraordinary expenses contemplated by our laws when calculating child support must be reasonable, necessary, and in the child's best interests and include:

  • Expenses related to special or private elementary or secondary schools to meet a child's particular educational needs; and
  • Expenses for transporting the child between the parents' homes.

Guideline child support is calculate by means of worksheets: Worksheet A, Worksheet B, and Worksheet C. The Worksheet A is entitled "Child Support Obligation Sole Custody", Worksheet B is entitled "Joint or Shared Physical Custody", and Worksheet C is entitled "Child Support Obligation Split Custody."

A party may seek a deviation by the court from the guidelines.

Payments for child support shall terminate upon the earliest of the following conditions:

  • The minor child turns eighteen (18) years of age;
  • The minor child becomes emancipated;<
  • The minor child dies;
  • If the minor child is still in primary or secondary school when he reaches age 18, support payments shall continue until the child graduates, otherwise ceases to attend school on a regular basis, fails to make satisfactory academic progress towards graduation, or reaches age 20, whichever comes first, unless the court in its discretion orders that payments cease at 18 or prior to high school graduation;
  • The parent responsible for paying child support dies; or
  • The custody of the minor child is changed to the party who was paying the support obligation.

An order for child support may be modified or vacated at any time upon a request of the court and a showing of a substantial change of circumstances.

For a party to be entitled to receive reimbursement of his or her attorney's fees in a child support matter:

  • The fees must be reasonable given the complexity of the issues, the experience of the attorney, and the rates generally charged by other attorneys of comparable experience in the community;
  • The person requesting the reimbursement must be an interested party in the case;
  • The person requesting the reimbursement must be acting in good faith in bringing the claim;
  • The person requesting the reimbursement must have insufficient means to defray the expense of the suit; and
  • The court must find as a fact that the party ordered to furnish support has refused to provide support which is adequate under the circumstances existing at the time of the institution of the action or proceeding

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Either spouse must have been a resident of North Carolina for at least six months before the filing of the complaint. The action is in the county where either party resides.
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