Child support is an important aspect of providing for the needs of a child after a separation or divorce. It is essential for both parents to contribute to the financial needs of the child, and the state of North Carolina has established guidelines for determining the amount of child support to be paid. The calculation of child support is based on several factors, chief among them is the parent’s income, earnings, and relative ability to pay.
What is Considered Income?
In North Carolina, income is defined broadly as any payment or compensation received by an individual, including but not limited to:
- Wages and salaries: This includes all compensation earned through employment, including bonuses, commissions, and tips.
- Self-employment income: This includes income earned from a business or professional practice, including income from rental property, partnerships, and other sources.
- Retirement income: This includes income from pensions, annuities, Social Security benefits, and other retirement accounts.
- Unemployment benefits: This includes any compensation received while unemployed.
- Workers’ compensation: This includes any compensation received due to a work-related injury or illness.
- Disability benefits: This includes any compensation received due to a disability, including disability insurance, Social Security disability benefits, and veterans’ disability benefits.
- Investment income: This includes income from stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other investments.
Recurring vs. Non-recurring
Income can also be non-recurring, such as lottery winnings, settlements, commissions and bonuses. In these situations, the amount received is usually averaged or prorated over a specified period of time. A percentage may also be applied to the nonrecurring income based upon the percentage of recurring income paid towards support.
What About Deductions?
All of these sources of income are considered when calculating child support in North Carolina. However, certain deductions may be made from gross income before determining the child support obligation. These deductions can include:
- Health insurance premiums
- Work-related childcare costs
- Other child support obligations
- Extraordinary expenses
Determining Child Support
It is important to note that the child support guidelines are just that – guidelines. The court may deviate from the guidelines if there are factors that warrant a deviation. For example, if one parent has significant medical expenses or if the child has special needs that require additional expenses, the court may adjust the child support amount accordingly.
As one can see, income is a crucial factor in determining child support in North Carolina. All sources of income are considered, and the list above is not exhaustive; a court has the discretion to view any source of funds as income.
The child support guidelines provide a framework for determining the amount of child support to be paid, but the court may deviate from the guidelines if there are extenuating circumstances. If you have questions about child support in North Carolina, it is best to consult with a family law specialist who can guide you through the process.