Every child is entitled to financial support from its
parents, and every parent has an obligation to ensure that these
needs are met.
It is recognized that child support is a shared monetary duty.
Any parent, guardian or caretaker of a child for whom support is
needed is entitled to apply for payments.
North Carolina’s Child
Support statutes are designed to provide adequate payments for the
care of the child
Child support is paid by the non-custodial parent to the
custodial parent or “…any other proper person, agency,
organization or institution, or to the court for the benefit of
the child”. Under North Carolina law, a child support claim may
be filed as a separate civil action, or as part of an action for
annulment, absolute divorce, divorce from bed and board
(separation), or alimony without divorce. The support payment may
be in the form of cash or property transfers. Child support is
most commonly paid via monthly or weekly installments, is not
taxed to the receiver, and cannot be claimed as a tax deduction by
Most child support is calculated on the North Carolina Child
Support Guidelines. Three different worksheets help to calculate
child support payments. The applicable worksheet is based on the
type of custody arrangement – sole, joint or split. There are
also separate support guidelines for low income and high earnings
families. Primary factors used to determine the amount of child
- the incomes and potential income of each parent
(including stock options and IRAs),
- past, present and future expenses (including daycare,
dental, medical, food/clothing/shelter, and education),
- extraordinary medical expenses,
- the amount of time the children spend with each parent,
- the needs of the children, and
- the child’s accustomed standard of living prior to the
divorce (or separation).
The custodial parent may also be eligible to receive reasonable
attorneys’ fees as part of the child support action.
Working together, many couples are able to reach a satisfactory
child support agreement. However, in some cases a negotiated
settlement is not possible. Your lawyer will investigate and
provide evidence of facts pertaining to estates, earnings,
conditions, accustomed standard of living of the child and each
spouse, child care and homemaker contributions of each party, and
other relevant information.
Changes in circumstances may impact the amount of child support
including changes in income or residence. In North Carolina, child
support usually terminates when the child reaches eighteen.
However, if a child is still in primary or secondary school at 18,
support payments may continue until the child graduates providing
certain criteria are met. Exceptions may be made for children who
are incapable of self-support.
Paternity is sometimes an issue in child support cases and
occurs when an alleged father denies that he is the child’s
biological parent. In these cases, genetic or DNA tests may be
voluntarily taken or ordered by the court. A test score with a 95%
match or higher is considered proof of paternity. Once paternity
is proven, the father may owe support payments retroactive to the
date when the child was born.
North Carolina criminal law protects neglected and abandoned
children. If a parent intentionally neglects or refuses to provide
adequate support for his or her biological or adopted child, that
parent is guilty of a misdemeanor and may be fined, or imprisoned
for up to six months, or both. The parent may also be required to
pay child support to the abandoned minor. Illegitimate children
are protected by laws that make neglect and failure to provide
support a misdemeanor. North Carolina’s state laws are
complemented by the Federal child support enforcement program
which was established by Congress, and requires all states to
enact laws and establish procedures regarding paternity, child
support payments and collection. Advanced technology, interstate
cooperation and Employer New Hire Reporting Programs ensure that
non-custodial parents live up to their financial responsibilities
to their children.
A qualified Family Law attorney can provide you with guidance
on decisions that will affect your family life after divorce, help
you to understand your rights and obligations, and put the legal
tools in place to ensure that you and your children are supported
financially during and after the divorce.
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