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How Is Child Support Determined In North Carolina?

In North Carolina, child support obligations are determined under the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines. The guidelines were created to set forth uniform statewide guidance determining the child support requirements for both parents. They state that both parents share a responsibility for child support and that a child should receive support in the event of a divorce in the same manner as they would receive it if the parents continued to live together.

The guidelines are applied as a rebuttable presumption, meaning that they presumptively dictate the amount of money that the courts consider a reasonable monthly amount owed by each parent. The court orders a child support amount designed to meet the child’s reasonable needs for health care, school and general maintenance. It takes into account the parents’ financial estates, their incomes, the standard of living that the child is used to and each parent’s financial contributions to the child’s upbringing. At Daphne Edwards Divorce & Family Law, PC, our lawyer can help you with your child support concerns whether you are the supporting parent or the receiving parent.

Child Support Worksheets: What To Know

The guidelines determine that the number of support payments depend on the parties’ gross income, taking into account other factors. These factors can include:

  • Work-related child care costs
  • Health insurance premiums paid for the child
  • Other expenses

There are three worksheets parents can choose to work off of to determine a parent’s presumptive support obligation. On the worksheets, the parties provide their gross incomes and as well as certain living expenses.

Deviation From Child Support Guidelines

The guidelines are not used in every case to determine the child support payments. In cases in which the parents’ combined gross income exceeds the guideline maximum, the court does not apply the guidelines. A court does not apply the guidelines in cases in which parents have a combined gross monthly income of $25,000 or greater or a gross annual income of $300,000 or greater. In those cases, the courts determine child support amounts based on the child’s reasonable needs, taking into consideration the family’s accustomed standard of living, the custodial arrangement, the parties’ income, the parties’ expenses and the parents’ relative ability to pay the support.

In addition, a parent can move the court to deviate upward or downward from the presumptive guidelines and order an amount of support that is different from the guidelines. A party may request a deviation in an original pleading or in a motion, or a court may deviate upon its own motion. A court may deviate from the guidelines if it finds, by the greater weight of evidence, that applying the criteria:

  • Neither meets or exceeds the needs of the child within reason, based on each parent’s ability to support the child
  • Is either just and appropriate or would be unjust or inappropriate

If a party requests deviation, the court must hold a hearing.

When Does North Carolina Send People To Jail For Unpaid Child Support?

In North Carolina, there is no set amount of unpaid child support that can result in incarceration. When determining whether to penalize someone with jail, the court considers a variety of factors. These may include:

  • The amount of child support in arrears
  • The party’s financial ability to pay back child support
  • The impact of the matter on the child
  • The party’s criminal record
  • The party’s employment history

If the supporting parent has not paid child support for more than 120 days and has not made any substantive efforts to pay, then the judge is much more likely to order their arrest. Our child and family law attorney will explain your rights, go over your options and defend you before Wake County family court if necessary.

Separation Agreements And Child Support

Child support payments may be resolved without going to court by way of a separation agreement. A separation agreement may contain obligations beyond what the law requires, such as college tuition for a child over the age of 18. If the separation agreement is incorporated into a consent order, then the court has the power to enforce the provisions that it ordinarily could not require. While the parties may execute a separation agreement that resolves child support, the court retains the authority to protect a child’s interests and modify the support provided in the parties’ separation agreement.

Ask Our Attorney About Child Support Amounts

For information regarding your unique situation, please contact Daphne Edwards Divorce & Family Law, PC. You can call us at 919-891-8552 or fill out our online form to get help with your child support arrangement.