How is child support calculated in North Carolina?
Generally, both parents have the responsibility to financially support their children. This means providing support that will meet the reasonable needs of the children for health, education, and maintenance. North Carolina has established statewide presumptive Guidelines to be used in the calculation of child support amounts. These Guidelines are reviewed at least every four years.
The Guidelines for child support calculation take into account:
- The number of children;
- The gross income of each parent;
- The number of overnights each parent has with the children;
- Health insurance premiums;
- Pre-existing child support;
- Work-related childcare costs.
A Guidelines calculation will use one of three worksheets to determine the child support amount depending on the parenting schedule.
Worksheet A applies if one parent has primary physical custody – that is, the children are in his/her care 243 nights or more during the year.
Worksheet B applies when parents share physical custody of children, each caring for the children for at least 123 nights during the year. Worksheet B also assumes that each parent pays for the children’s expenses during the time the children live with that parent. In other words, each parent provides everything the child needs (clothing, bed, bedding, food, toothbrush, shampoo, shoes, school supplies, etc.) at each parent’s residence.
Worksheet C applies in cases of split custody. This is a fairly uncommon situation in which one parent has primary custody of at least one of the children and the other parent has primary custody of the other child or children.
The amounts calculated using the Guidelines are presumed to be appropriate. However, in some circumstances, a parent can ask the court to deviate from the Guidelines. For example, the court may deviate if it finds that the Guidelines amount would not meet, or would exceed, the reasonable needs of the child.
Modification of Child Support
Once the court has entered a child support order, the order may only be modified if there has been a “substantial change in circumstances.” For example, if the payor loses his/her job, the payor could request a modification from the court. Other situations that might justify a modification might be a change in the parenting schedule or an increase in the child’s needs and expenses.
However, 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 automatically constitutes a substantial change in circumstances warranting modification.
Terminating Child Support
Under most circumstances, child support obligations continue until a child reaches the age of 18 or until a 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 toward graduation, or reaches age 20.
Contact our firm today if you have questions about child support in North Carolina or if you think you may need assistance with a support claim.