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How is Child Support Determined in a Divorce?

North Carolina allows divorcing parents to agree on their own terms for child support payments, but more often parents rely on the court to make a determination.

Calculating Child Support in North Carolina

The state has guidelines to determine the amount of support based on the financial situation of each parent. However, these guidelines are not applicable in some situations, such as when the calculated amount does not meet the child’s needs or if there is another factor that makes the support amount inappropriate.

The calculation method will vary based on custody and visitation arrangements. So, parents with split custody will have different support calculations than if one parent had primary custody. Other factors include:

  • Income of both parents
  • Other child support obligations
  • Childcare expenses
  • Health insurance costs

When only one parent is employed, courts may decide to impute income to the unemployed parent, which can make a significant impact on the child support award. If income is imputed, the court will calculate child support based on what the unemployed or underemployed parent could be making rather than their actual income.

There are additional factors that North Carolina courts use to determine child support obligations, so reach out to a Greensboro divorce lawyer to discuss the details of your case. An experienced attorney is your best resource for information.

Can a Parent Appeal a Child Support Award?

Either parent can appeal the court’s child support decision. This is not uncommon, especially in cases where one or both parents’ income is complex.

Example from Wyoming Case of Hyatt v. Hyatt

In the Wyoming case of Hyatt v. Hyatt, Father was self-employed as a truck driver. When calculating monthly child support obligations in the divorce, the court used Father’s ordinary business income, depreciation, and tax return data from 2019, 2020, and 2021. The total was then averaged and divided by 12 to find Father’s net monthly income.

Mother was awarded primary custody of the children and temporary spousal support. Based on all these factors, the court ordered Father to pay $2,327 in child support to Mother.

Father appealed, and the case was heard in the Supreme Court of Wyoming. The Court stated that income is defined as any payment or money received by an individual, including wages, salary, commission, earnings, and any other payment. Father’s argument in the Hyatt case that the lower court erred when calculating his income was rejected by the Supreme Court.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court upheld the circuit court’s decision to require Father to pay child support, as well as the decision to award Mother custody and to distribute the marital property unevenly.