How Is Child Support Calculated in North Carolina?

When a married couple divorce or go their separate ways after the breakdown of a relationship, there is always an issue of child support if there are children involved. Child support is a payment that a noncustodial parent makes to contribute to the costs of raising their child. There are usually several issues associated with the payment of support, especially with the calculation.

This article looks at how to calculate child support in North Carolina. If you’re getting a divorce or separating from your partner, hire a Charlotte family law attorney at Waple and Houk to represent you and your child’s interests.

Who Pays Child Support Under North Carolina Law? 

Theoretically, in North Carolina, both parents are required by law to pay. But in practice, the non-custodial parent is the one who makes this payment. A non-custodial parent might have legal custody but not physical custody of a child.

However, the custodial parent also contributes to the child’s upkeep and welfare. Here, the law sees their contribution as “direct” since the child already lives with them. In typical circumstances and unless the child has been emancipated, the non-custodial parent pays the child support until the minor turns 18.

How Does North Carolina Calculate Child Support? 

The amount the parent pays depends on the number of children who need support, the income of both parents, and the custody arrangement. However, you can estimate what you’ll get by using North Carolina’s Child Support Guidelines. Furthermore, a court can adjust the amount if the guidelines provide a number that cannot cover the child’s needs or is unreasonable for the parent to pay.

Note that while the guidelines have a base amount for a parent to pay, the final amount needed by your child might be different. In addition to the guideline’s figure, parents share child costs and other expenses. Lastly, one of the parents may cover the child’s medical insurance if ordered by the court.

Can an Unemployed Parent Pay? 

When calculating payment using the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines, the income of both parents is important. Usually, the guidelines consider the parents’ gross income. Gross income encapsulates the total income from all sources, including returns, discounts, and allowances, before deducting any expenses or taxes. It also includes pension and severance pay.

An unemployed parent may still pay child support if they receive social security benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, unemployment, or disability benefits. In addition, gifts, prizes, and alimony from a former spouse count. Furthermore, a court can impute income to a voluntarily unemployed or underemployed parent unless they have a good reason for making such a choice.

There are some benefits that the law allows you to exclude from child support. An excellent example is general assistance or food benefits. You can also exclude Supplemental Security Income (SSI), any support you already receive for other children, and some work-related benefits like health insurance. Contact a Charlotte family law lawyer to learn more about what can be excluded.

How Custody Affects Child Support Calculation

The time a parent spends with a child affects the amount they pay as support. Generally, there are different ways to share parenting time. But the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines calculates child support differently when a parent has sole custody, shared or joint custody, or split custody. The latter is a situation where parents divide their children between them. For example, one may take the older child while the other takes the younger one.

Once you’ve determined custody and ascertained gross income, you can use an online worksheet to calculate payment. The worksheet automatically gives you a figure, but keep in mind that it is only an estimate. Below are the different worksheets for the different types of custody.

Can You Modify the Child Support Amount? 

Once you have the support order, you can ask the court to modify it. The modification is entirely different and the court may not change the amount unless one parent experienced a change in circumstances. That is, whether your incomes increased or decreased. A parent’s income must at least increase by 15% before the court considers a modification. A loss of job, injury, or a new baby, might also lead to modifying the child support amount.

Contact Us Today!

Whether you are seeking child support or requesting a modification, working with an attorney makes the process faster and easier. Our Charlotte family law lawyers at Waple and Houk are ready to help you solve all child support issues. Contact us today for a free case review.

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