Practice Areas

Child support

Like most states, North Carolina has adopted Guidelines for determining child support. Under the Guidelines, child support is determined using an “income shares model.” The income shares model is based on the concept that child support is a shared parental obligation and that a child should receive the same proportion of a parent’s income that she would have received if her parents lived together. The custodial arrangement may also have an impact on the amount of child support. For example, child support will be determined using Worksheet A of the Guidelines if the child lives primarily with one parent for at least 242 nights during the year. Worksheet B will be used if each parent has custodial time with the child for at least 123 overnights each year, and there is a true sharing of the child’s expenses between the parents. Worksheet C is used when the parents have split custody (i.e., one child lives primarily with one parent, and another child lives primarily with the other parent).

Calculate child support
 
These Guidelines are not used in every child support case. In cases where the parents’ combined gross (pre-tax) monthly income is $25,000.00 or greater ($300,000 annually), then the Guidelines do not apply (although the schedule of basic child support may be of assistance to the court in establishing a minimal level of support). In those cases, the court must determine child support based on the reasonable needs of the child and the parents’ respective ability to provide adequate support for the child. Additionally, in other cases where the parties earn less than $300,000 annually, although it is presumed that the Guideline amount of child support is reasonable, the court may deviate from the Guidelines (i.e., order more or less monthly child support) if the court determines that applying the Guidelines would yield an unjust or inappropriate result.

In determining child support, a court has the authority to order a parent to maintain health insurance for the benefit of a child when health insurance is available at a reasonable cost. When determining child support, the cost for the child’s health insurance premium is added to the basic child support obligation determined under the Guidelines and then prorated between the parties based on the parties’ respective incomes. If a parent has insurance available to him through an employer-sponsored plan, then it is presumed that that health insurance is available to a parent at a reasonable cost.

The court may order that unreimbursed or uninsured health care expenses or other uninsured health care costs (including reasonable and necessary costs related to orthodontia, dental care, asthma treatments, physical therapy, treatment of chronic health problems and counseling or psychiatric therapy for diagnosed mental disorders) in excess of $250.00 per year be paid by either or both parents in such proportion as the court deems appropriate. Often, the court orders the parents to pay unreimbursed health care expenses in proportion to their respective incomes. For example, if Husband earns 70% of the parties’ combined incomes, then Husband would be responsible for 70% of the unreimbursed health care expense. Likewise, if Wife earns 30% of the parties’ combined incomes, then Wife would be responsible for 30%.

Just like health insurance, reasonable childcare costs that are paid by a parent due to employment or a job search are added to the basic child support obligation. In limited cases, extraordinary child-related expenses may be added to the basic child support obligation if the court determines these expenses are reasonable, necessary, and in the child’s best interest. The court has the discretion to determine what constitutes an “extraordinary expense,” but the Guidelines identify expenses such as tuition at a special or private school to meet a child’s particular educational needs and transportation expenses between the parents’ homes as potential extraordinary expenses (for example, if parents live in different states). These types of expenses are usually determined on a case-by-case basis.

It is important to discuss child support concerns with a family attorney to insure that your child’s reasonable and necessary needs are being met.

Frequently asked questions

  • How is the amount of child support determined?

  • Like most states, North Carolina has adopted Guidelines for determining child support. Under the Guidelines, child support is determined using an “income shares model.” The income shares model is based on the concept that child support is a shared parental obligation and that a child should receive the same proportion of a parent’s income that he/she would have received if his/her parents lived together. The custodial arrangement may also have an impact on the amount of child support. For example, child support will be determined using Worksheet A of the Guidelines if the child lives primarily with one parent for at least 242 nights during the year. Worksheet B will be used if each parent has custodial time with the child for at least 123 overnights each year, and there is a true sharing of the child’s expenses between the parents. Worksheet C is used when the parents have split custody (i.e., one child lives primarily with one parent and another child lives primarily with the other parent). Click here to access the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines and the child support worksheets.

  • What about health insurance coverage for my child? Is that part of child support?

  • Yes. A court has the authority to order a parent to maintain health insurance for the benefit of a child when health insurance is available at a reasonable cost. When determining child support, the cost for the child’s health insurance premium is added to the basic child support obligation determined under the Guidelines and then prorated between the parties based on the parties’ respective incomes.

  • Do I have to pay income tax on child support I receive? Does my husband get to deduct this from his income?

  • Unlike post-separation support and alimony, child support is not taxable as income to the recipient parent and is not a tax deduction to the payor parent.

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