Parents are responsible for providing for their children. In the event that a child’s parents split or divorce, this obligation does not go away. Therefore, child support is typically required to ensure a parent continues to provide for their children’s needs. For parents going through child support negotiations for the first time, it’s common to have several questions about North Carolina’s laws on child support, the amount to expect or be required to pay, as well as a parent’s rights in child support matters. Our Charlotte child support lawyers answer these questions and more in this guide.
The History of NC Child Support
Child support guidelines in North Carolina have been through many updates over the years, including the provision of the 1975 Child Support Enforcement and Paternity Enforcement Act. This piece of legislation passed Congress in an attempt to limit the number of single parents seeking welfare assistance to meet their needs because of missed child support payments.
In the 21st-century, the state of North Carolina has placed the issue of non-payment of child support in the hands of the Department of Health and Human Services to make it easier for non-paying parents to be located.
Calculating Child Support Payments
The issue of child support usually comes up when a divorce is being considered. The rules of child support in North Carolina are a little more stringent than in many other states. The legislature of North Carolina expects both parents to contribute to the upbringing and needs of children in the state with a custodial parent still expected to provide support. It is usual for a non-custodial parent to be ordered to make payments as part of the court-ordered divorce agreement.
Calculations are made according to the amount of income each parent shows and the division of the care provided for each child. If a couple share two children and one cares for each there will usually be no provision for child support in the agreement. However, a non-custodial parent caring for their child for less than 123 nights per year will pay more in child support. There is some discretion permitted for each court to alter the level of support required depending on individual circumstances.
Challenging Payment Requirements
If the parent who does not win custody of their child in North Carolina believes the level of child support they are permitted to challenge this in court. In general, the level of support on offer from a non-custodial parent is calculated using their gross adjusted income from recent tax returns.
However, a parent can ask for the level of payments to be lowered if they can prove they are not able to pay this level of support. For example, a parent with a disability will often have their child support payments lowered if they are unable to work a full-time job regularly.
Modifying NC Child Support
Many modifications can be made to the level of child support that is court-ordered that can be obtained, largely because of changes to the personal circumstances of the non-custodial parent. In general, the level of payments that are made can be modified if the individual has seen their income fall by 15 percent or more with the custodial parent able to file for adjustments through mandated court orders.
Other Aspects of Child Support to Consider
There are a few other areas of supporting a child that is not taken into consideration when an individual is exploring their child support options. Among the areas of financial support that are often mandated by court order are those surrounding health insurance and child care costs. The need for child care will often have a large impact on the level of child support paid in North Carolina that can include the need for one parent to pay for these costs.
When Do North Carolina Child Support Payments Stop?
In general, the use of child support in North Carolina is mandated through the age of 18 for the child. However, a child who is moving through school and looking to attend college will often have their support extended through the age of 20. Other reasons for the halting of child support payments include the death of a child or their emancipation from either or both parents.