The Basics of Child Support in North Carolina

Child support is determined by a formula in most North Carolina cases. But calculating the amount involves guidelines, worksheets, statutes, case law, and much more. A relatively simple matter can quickly become complicated once incomes and expenses are thrown into the mix. Before you speak with a Charlotte, NC attorney about child support, you should familiarize yourself with some of the basics.

Judges base their decisions on a set of statewide rules known as the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines. There are exceptions to these rules. For instance, the guidelines do not apply to parents whose combined gross monthly income exceeds $30,000 (as of January 2019). A party can also ask the court to deviate from the guidelines under certain circumstances. A Charlotte child support attorney can walk you through the requirements for obtaining a deviation.

Income Factor in Child Support

“Income” means a parent’s actual gross income. This means the income earned before taxes and other deductions. It includes wages, bonuses, commissions, earnings from a business or rent, self-employment income, gifts, and other sources. There are numerous types of income that do not qualify, however. Broadly speaking, money received through public assistance programs such as TANF does not count. Neither do child support payments received for a child other than the one at issue between the parents.

A common misunderstanding is that income from a non-parent, such as a significant other or new spouse, can be used in calculating child support. This is not the case, even if the non-parent lives with or is married to the parent. Child support is intended to be between the parents of the child or children in each case.

Another misunderstanding is that a parent can intentionally earn less, or not work, and thereby avoid higher child support payments. A parent who believes this behavior is occurring should ask his or her Charlotte child support attorney about imputing income. In certain cases, the court can base a child support award on potential, rather than actual, income. The court must find that the other parent is intentionally depressing his or her income in bad faith. As with the application of the guidelines, there are exceptions. Imputing income is not allowed, for example, for parents who are mentally or physically incapacitated.

Local Courts in Child Support

There are local rules of court requiring parents to show the judge how much money they earn. These rules will require parents to fill out and sign financial affidavits and provide documentation of their incomes. The documentation required includes tax returns, pay stubs, business receipts, and other financial records. Your Charlotte child support attorney should be familiar with the local rules of court in your jurisdiction.

The court will consider a child’s daycare and health insurance costs in determining the amount of support. Health insurance includes medical and dental, and only includes the amount paid for the child. Therefore, the portion of the policy covering a parent, or a child not subject to the present case, is excluded. Also excluded is what a parent’s employer pays towards health insurance. Uninsured healthcare costs can be apportioned between the parents, in such percentages as the court finds appropriate. Your Charlotte child support attorney will work with you to help cover your child’s reasonable needs and expenses.

There are three different worksheets the court can use to calculate child support: A, B, and C. Worksheet A is used when one parent has primary physical custody of the child. “Primary” custody means a child lives with one parent at least 243 nights during the calendar year. Worksheet B is used when both parents have custody of a child for at least 123 nights during the year. Finally, Worksheet C is for cases in which the parents split primary custody of two or more children. Talk to your Charlotte child support attorney to determine which worksheet will apply in your case.

Contact a Child Support Lawyer in Charlotte, NC Today

There are many more rules than those discussed above. Unfortunately, child support can and often does become a point of contention between the parents. If you need support or are being sued for it, you need an experienced law firm on your side. Contact one of our child support attorneys today.


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We recommend meeting with an attorney. While there is free legal help available for North Carolina residents from pro bono resources for civil matters, and public defenders for criminal cases, the best way to access tailored advice is to hire a lawyer.

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This is done on a case by case basis if you are involved in a family law, criminal, or professional disciplinary matter that involves another jurisdiction.



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