If you are in the midst of a divorce that involves minor children, two things should be of major concern for you: child custody and child support. Regardless of your custodial arrangements, one party will likely be required to pay some amount of child support. The amount of those child support payments is very important to both spouses. No one wants to see payments too small to adequately care for their children, but no paying spouse wants to see payments so large that they can barely afford to support themselves, either. Courts generally try to find the happy medium.
North Carolina Law Governs the Child Support Process
Judges are guided by state law when deciding how much child support a divorcing spouse must pay. The law mandates monthly payments that are adequate to provide for the reasonable needs of the child. Those needs include health, education, and daily maintenance, such as food, clothing, transportation, and other essentials. The state has a schedule of basic support obligations. The minimum payment is $50 per child, but that applies only where the combined gross income of both spouses is $1,150 per month or less. The basic recommended payment goes up from there. Factors that can affect the amount of child support payments include:
- Gross income of each parent. Both parents have support obligations, but the support obligations are prorated based on their respective incomes. If the noncustodial parent earns 45 percent of the two parents’ combined incomes, that is the noncustodial parent’s share of the total support obligation.
- Existing child-support obligations of either parent
- The state schedule for basic child-support obligations. The schedule does not cover cases where the combined income of the parents is $30,000 per month or more.
- Reasonable child-care costs
- Reasonable costs for health insurance and health care expenses
- Other extraordinary expenses. These can include education expenses, such as private school or some other special education situation, required by the child’s particular educational needs.
Do You Need a Child-Support Lawyer?
If you find yourself about to either receive or pay child support, you need to fully understand the situation and the possibilities so that you can achieve the best possible outcome. Talk to the Charlotte family law attorneys of Remington & Dixon. You can reach us online or by calling (704) 247-7110.
Child Support FAQs
Who Pays for Visits To The Noncustodial Parent?
Basic child support guidelines don’t include the cost of getting the child or children from the custodial parent’s house to that of the noncustodial parent for court-mandated visits. The judge in the divorce case can add reasonable costs for such travel to the support obligation, to be paid prorated according to the respective incomes of the parents.
Do The Support Guidelines Include the Cost of Health Insurance?
The cost of health care costs and dental costs, both insurance and deductibles, are not included in the basic obligations and can be added to the basic support payment, prorated according to the parents’ respective incomes. The court may also order that uninsured health care costs in excess of $250 per year incurred by a parent be paid by either parent or both parents in such proportion as the court deems appropriate.
Can I Get My Child Support Obligation Lessened If My Income Goes Down?
If your existing court order was issued at least three years ago and there is a difference of 15% or more between the amount of child support payable under the existing order and the amount of child support resulting from application of the Guidelines using the parties’ current incomes, the court presumes that modification is warranted. If the order is less than three years old or a new calculation does not result in a 15% difference in support amounts, then you must show the court that there has been a substantial change of circumstances to allow modification.
Jennifer is a founding partner at Remington & Dixon, PLLC. Jennifer concentrates her practice in the areas of family law, wills & estates, unemployment benefits appeals, and traffic. At Elon University School of Law, Jennifer was the vice president of the Public Interest Law Society and a member of the Family Law Society. During law school, Jennifer interned at the Elon University School of Law Field Placement Clinic with Legal Aid of North Carolina where she represented clients in domestic violence court proceedings.