Child Support Guidelines in North Carolina

What are the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines?

Calculation of child support in most North Carolina cases is set to presumptive guidelines. These rules provide a reasonable and appropriate amount of support for the child or children. Section 50-13.4 of the North Carolina General Statutes requires review of the guidelines at least every four years. The purpose of this review is to ensure that application of the child support guidelines results in appropriate orders. North Carolina’s child support guidelines apply to temporary and permanent orders, as well as to retroactive support.

Guidelines in North Carolina

The guidelines take several factors into consideration. The calculation takes into account both parents’ gross incomes, including income from self-employment. Although the definition of “income” is broad, excluded are benefits from certain public assistance programs. A court may consider potential, instead of actual, income if a parent is attempting to avoid paying child support. This usually occurs in the case of unemployment or unemployment and assumes a parent has the ability to work.

The Number of Children Needing Child Support

The number of children the parents have, including children from other relationships, figures into the calculation. The child support guidelines also account for the number of overnights each parent has with the child or children. Primary and joint custody arrangements between the parents will determine which of three worksheets to use. If a parent is already paying child support in another matter, that will also factor in.

A parent should document expenses for a child’s health care, health insurance, and reasonable child care. The judge takes these costs into consideration. The guidelines take into account extraordinary expenses.

When Guidelines Do Not Apply

There are limits to the use of the child support guidelines. For example, the guidelines do not apply if the parents’ combined adjusted gross income is greater than $25,000 per month. In such cases, a court should order an amount that will meet a child’s reasonable health, education, and maintenance needs. Often, parents will enter into an agreement to determine monthly support. For future claims, a court relies on that agreement and not the guidelines. A judge is not bound by such agreements. The amount of the agreement can be set aside by a court in certain cases.

Because the child support guidelines are presumptive, either parent can request a deviation. This happens when application of the guidelines would not meet or would exceed, the reasonable needs of the child. When use of the guidelines is otherwise unjust or inappropriate, a court may also deviate. There are several factors taken into consideration to determine whether to grant the request to deviate.

Modifying Child Support in Wilmington, North Carolina

The child support guidelines also address motions to modify previous orders. To modify a child support order in North Carolina, there must be a significant change in circumstances. A court compares the amount in the old order to the amount that would currently result from the guidelines. If the difference is at least 15%, and the prior order is three years or older, there is a presumption of a significant change in circumstances.

A Wilmington Child Support Lawyer May Be Able to Help You

Parents may wish to avoid court and agree to child support on their own terms. Although judges have the power to set these agreements aside, they are usually less costly and time-consuming than court. But no two cases are alike, and the parents may disagree as to how much a child needs. It is for these situations that guidelines are in place. If faced with a court-order, consider an experienced Wilmington child support attorney. Contact us today for a consultation.