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What Are the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines?

Any parent over the age of 18 whose rights have not been terminated has an obligation to financially support their children. If you are going through a divorce, have recently separated from your child’s other parent, or are involved in a child support matter for any other reason, it can be helpful to understand how support amounts are calculated.

Calculating Child Support in North Carolina

Child support is paid by a parent to meet their child’s reasonable health, education, and maintenance needs. There is no single required way for support to be decided. If parents can agree on support terms, then a Separation Agreement or Voluntary Support Agreement can be used to set the amount. However, if parents cannot agree, the Child Support Enforcement Agency can arrange support, or the parent seeking support can file a complaint with the court.

North Carolina Child Support Guidelines

In the majority of cases, the state’s Child Support Guidelines are used to determine the appropriate amount of support. One notable exception is when the parents’ combined income is higher than $40,000 per month; in such cases, the Guidelines cannot be used to calculate the support obligation.

The Guidelines use general assumptions and expenses which are based on the concept that each parent must contribute the same proportion of their income as they would if they lived together. The following factors are used:

  • Income: More specifically, the calculations are based on net income plus federal tax, North Carolina tax, and FICA to create a converted gross income. Income includes wages, salaries, self-employment income, Veterans Administration benefits, and numerous other types of compensation.
  • Other Support Obligations: The Guidelines are usually adjusted if the parent ordered to pay support is already paying child support for another child or has adopted or biological children residing with them.
  • Child Care: Reasonable child care costs are added to the calculations and prorated based on each parent’s income.
  • Health Insurance: The Guidelines also allow for health insurance and other health care costs to be considered when determining support obligations. If, for example, the parent ordered to pay support is already paying for health insurance for the child, their support amount will be offset by the portion of the health insurance premium they are responsible for.
  • Other Extraordinary Expenses: If the court decides that there are other relevant child-related expenses, these costs may also be included in the calculations.

There is a North Carolina Child Support Worksheet for applying the Guidelines to each unique case, but even with the Worksheet and Guidelines, child support calculations are often complicated. Working with a family law specialist ensures that you are prepared for your child support hearing. Woodruff Family Law Group has specialists who will clarify the requirements and support elements, so you know what to expect and are given the fair and equal treatment you deserve in your family law case.