If you have children and are going through a divorce, then one natural question you probably have is how much your child support payments will be. Under North Carolina law, both parents are expected to contribute to their children’s upbringing, regardless of whether they want to be a presence in their child’s life.
North Carolina has taken a lot of the guesswork out of child support. It has created guidelines which are a little complicated, but our Wilmington family lawyer will break down the most important factors that go into the calculation. As always, contact us if you would like individualized advice.
Number of Children to Be Supported
If you have 2 children, then child support will probably be larger than if you have only one child together. The child support guidelines consider the number of children from this relationship and the type of custody. For example, do the parents share custody? Or is the mother or father given primary custody?
You might not know what type of custody arrangement you will have, especially if you are only now considering divorce. But an attorney can help you run through different scenarios so you see how much you might pay if you share custody versus if the other parent gets primary custody.
The support guidelines will identify a support amount based on each parent’s income and the amount of time they have with the children.
Parent’s Income and Certain Child-Related Expenses
The formula also considers the financial position of each parent. You will need to plug in the following information:
- Monthly gross income
- Any prior child support payments
- Other dependent children each parent is supporting
- Work-related childcare expenses
- Health insurance premiums for the child
- Extraordinary child-related expenses
Income from almost all sources is counted and includes wages, salary, bonuses, commissions, pensions Social Security benefits, and other income.
Departing from the Guideline Amounts
Judges have the power to deviate from the amount calculated using the guidelines. They can do this if the amount is unfair or insufficient for the child’s needs. In practice, however, we have found it difficult to get judges to depart from the guidelines.
Modifying Child Support
Once a judge enters a child support order, she usually is not anxious to review it later. Under the law, a judge can modify child support if there has been a “substantial change” of circumstances. For example, the child’s needs might have increased, or one parent’s income could have gone up or down. Similarly, the amount of time the child spends with a parent might have increased or decreased.
Generally, a judge will find that there has been a substantial change of circumstances if the proposed amount is different from the current order by at least 15% and that at least 3 years have passed since the entry of the last order.
For help calculating how much child support you might need to pay, contact Speaks Law Firm, P.C., today.