Generally, both parents have the responsibility to financially support their children. North Carolina General Statutes § 50-13.4 states that the amount of child support is intended to “meet the reasonable needs of the child for health, education, and maintenance” and authorizes the Conference of Chief District Judges to establish statewide presumptive guidelines to be used in the computation of child support obligations. The Guidelines are reviewed at least every four years.
Support calculated according to the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines is primarily a function of the number of children, the income of the parties, and the overnights each party has with the children (the physical custody schedule). Also factored into the equation is the costs of health insurance, work related child care, and other “extraordinary” expenses, as well as financial obligations for other children.
Included in the Guidelines are three worksheets to be used in the calculation.
- Worksheet A is to be used if one parent has primary physical custody, that is, the child is in his/her care 243 nights or more during the year.
- Worksheet B is to be used when parents share physical custody of a child, each having the child in his/her care for at least 123 nights during the year. Worksheet B also assumes that each parent assumes financial responsibility for the child’s expenses during the time the child lives with that parent. In other words, the child has everything he/she needs (clothing, bed, bedding, toothbrush, shampoo, shoes, school supplies, etc) at each parent’s residence.
- Worksheet C is to be used in cases of split custody. This is a fairly uncommon circumstance in which one parent has primary custody of at least one of the children for whom support is being determined and the other parent has primary custody of the other child or children for whom support is being determined.
The amounts calculated using the Guidelines are presumed to be appropriate. A party can ask the court to deviate from the Guidelines, and the court may deviate if it finds that “application of 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.”
For more information visit https://nddhacts01.dhhs.state.nc.us/WorkSheet.jsp
Once a child support order has been entered, it may only be modified upon a substantial change in circumstances, such as the payor becoming involuntarily unemployed, a change in custody, an increase in the child’s needs and expenses, etc.
The Guidelines state that if three years have passed since entry of the child support order, and a recalculation of support under the Guidelines using the current circumstances would result in a difference of 15% or more, this constitutes a substantial change in circumstances warranting modification.
Under most circumstances, child support obligations continue until the child reaches the age of 18 or until the child graduates from high school, whichever occurs last. Obligations will also terminate if, after the age of 18, the child has not graduated from high school but ceases to attend school on a regular basis, fails to make satisfactory academic progress towards graduation, or reaches age 20.
Contact our firm today if you have questions about child support or if you think you may need assistance with a support claim.