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Child Support

Each state has child support guidelines, which are based on charts that determine the amount of child support that must be paid. There are several types of worksheets. Each worksheet is a summary of the calculations based on the chart with some adjustments. Guideline worksheet A applies when children live primarily live with one parent, meaning that parent has at least 243 overnights with a child per year.  If the other parent spends at least 123 overnights with the child or children, worksheet B must be used. Families with split custody, when one parent has custody of one child and the other parent has custody of another child, use worksheet C to determine the amount of support. See the NC Child Support Enforcement site.

The law requires child support to be paid according to the guidelines unless a parent can prove the amount of support required by the “guidelines would not meet, or would exceed, the reasonable needs of the child considering the relative ability of each parent to provide support, or would otherwise be unjust or inappropriate.” If a parent can prove one of these things, the judge may deviate from the guidelines as he or she sees fit. Deviations are only made in special situations.  Also, there are some exceptions to the guidelines, such as when parents choose to sign a separation agreement using their own agreed-upon amount of child support.

The gross incomes of the parents are added to the guidelines worksheet, along with any cost for health insurance and work-related childcare. If a parent is unemployed, no income will be assigned for him or her as long as the child at issue is under three years old. Otherwise, the court uses a parent’s actual income. If a parent intentionally reduces his or her income in an effort to avoid paying child support, or to artificially reduce the amount of child support, the court may then assign an income based on the amount the parent is capable of earning instead of his or her actual income.

The guidelines give parents certain credits if they have other children or pay child support to someone else for those children. If the parents pay for special or private school based on a child’s specific needs, that amount is credited accordingly. Reasonable travel expenses for visitation may be credited if the parents do not live in the same area. There is also a catch-all category of “extraordinary expenses” that the court may choose to credit, meant to give the court flexibility if there are unique circumstances. The court may also address extra-curricular expenses as credits on a worksheet if appropriate and in the best interest of the child at issue.

Related Reading:

What Counts as Income?

Child Suppport When Parents Are Self-Employed or Own a Business

College Expenses in North Carolina

FAQs on Arranging Child Support Through the State

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