Striving to find optimal solutions that benefit both parents and children regarding family legal matters.
Your Partner for Fair and Balanced Solutions
In North Carolina, child support is established following the guidelines set by the state. These guidelines ensure fair and balanced support for both children and parents, whether in contested or non-contested cases.
Our office is here to provide professional guidance and support, whether you are pursuing child support or facing a request for child support from another party. We understand the complexities of these matters and are dedicated to helping you navigate them effectively.
Kristin Losquadro Razon
Prioritizing the Child’s Best Interest
We strive to adeptly advocate for your interests, whether you are seeking child support or responding to a request, all while upholding the highest standards of professionalism and expertise in guiding you through the legal proceedings.
Find answers to frequently asked questions about child support matters.
Fortunately, in North Carolina, the laws and guidelines on child support are well developed, and they take a lot of the guess work out of the picture. You can calculate how much child support the guidelines require by plugging in each parent’s income and how many nights the child spends with each parent.
But courts may add in for unusual or extraordinary expenses (eg, special education or health expenses) and may deviate from the guidelines under special circumstances or when there is a high combined income of the parents.
The idea is that each child is entitled to the same share of each parent’s income as he or she would have been if the parents were still married and living together with the child (“income shares model”). You can agree to any child support amount, but Courts can always disregard an agreement and order an amount it believes is appropriate for the child.
Each parent’s gross income must be determined (income from all sources). Income can be from a W2 job, ownership of a business, self-employment, rental income, and other types of benefits can also be considered income.
If a party is voluntarily unemployed, or underemployed, the court may look to determine the intent behind that party’s status to decide whether or not income should be imputed to that parent when calculating the monthly amount of child support and that parent’s gross income.
Adjustments will then be made for work-related child care expenses incurred by either party, along with health insurance costs for the children and other extraordinary expenses either party may have for caring for the minor children.
If the parents have joint physical custody where each parent has at least 123 overnights per year with the children, then Worksheet B from the NC Child Support Guidelines is used. If one parent has less than 123 overnights, then Worksheet A is used. Worksheet C is used less frequently, but would be used if physical custody of two or more children is split between the parents.
The NC Child Support Guidelines is the presumptive amount of child support necessary to support the minor children in each case. However, if the guideline amount would not meet or would exceed the children’s reasonable needs considering the relative ability of each parent to provide support would would otherwise be unjust or inappropriate then a party can ask the court to “deviate” from the guidelines and order an amount lower or higher than what the guidelines worksheet indicates. It will then be to the judge’s discretion whether or not a deviation from the guidelines would be appropriate.
Because a child support order determines the current and continuing rights of parties with respect to a minor child, the order can always be modified upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances that affects the child. This could be a change in the physical custody schedule of the minor children; significant financial changes for either party; or an increase or decrease in the needs of the child as just a few examples.
According to the NC Child Support Guidelines currently in place, if three years have passed since the entry of your child support order, if 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 a new application of the guidelines based on the parents’ current incomes and circumstances, this would constitute a substantial change of circumstances warranting modification.
Be mindful that an agreement to pay child support in a Separation Agreement that has not been incorporated into a court order could be different when you are seeking to modify a support amount. Please speak to your attorney about what this means and how this could affect your case.
The most important thing you can’t do is withhold visitation and violate a court order on custody or some other provision because the other parent is not paying child support as they should.
Similarly, a parent who is obligated to pay child support can’t withhold payments simply because the other parent is withholding visitation.
If the other parent is not paying child support as required under an existing court order, you may need to file a motion with the court to ask the court to step in and find the other parent in contempt of the court order.
In North Carolina, there are two kinds of contempt- civil contempt and criminal contempt. A party may be found in criminal contempt if you can prove that they willfully failed to comply with the court order at some point in the past, even when they had the ability to do so. If the Court finds them in criminal contempt, the court may fine them, admonish them, or may put them in jail for a limited period of time.
On the other hand, a party may be found in civil contempt if you can prove that they are currently in violation of the court order, that their failure to comply with the order is willful, and that they have the present ability to comply. If the court finds them in civil contempt, the court may order them to purge the contempt by paying any outstanding amount of child support that has become due, to avoid going to jail.
The difference between criminal and civil contempt is that criminal contempt is intended to punish the party in violation of the order for their lack of compliance, whereas civil contempt is intended to force them into compliance going forward.
If you currently have a court order entitling you to receive child support from your child’s other parent, and they are not paying it as they are supposed to, please call our office to arrange to discuss your options.
Speak to your attorney about filing an initial complaint for child support. In some circumstances you are able to ask for retroactive child support (which is support owed for a time period before the complaint is filed) along with prospective child support (which is support to be paid from the date of the filing of the complaint forward in time).
Be mindful if you have an agreement to pay child support in a Separation Agreement that has not been incorporated into a court order. This Agreement could affect how you seek to obtain an initial child support order in court. Please speak to your attorney about what this means and how this could affect your case.
Still Have Questions?
Contact us for more information.
Schedule a Consultation
Contact us via text or through our contact form.
Determine the next right steps for your unique situation.
Experience clarity on your legal rights and options.