NC: Child Support

Every state has Child Support Guidelines that provide a formula for calculating the amount of child support to be paid when two parents no longer raise their child(ren) in the same household.

When calculating child support, the following factors may come into play:

  • The number of children from your current relationship
  • The number of children from a previous relationship
  • Any existing child support orders
  • Any potential healthcare costs related to your children
  • Expenses for work-related child care
  • Number of overnights the child(ren) spend(s) with each parent over the year

Essentially, the expenses of a child are to be shared by both parents in proportion to their contribution to the total household income. In a case where there is a primary custodial parent and a secondary custodial parent, the child support is calculated on something called a “Worksheet A.” If two parents share parenting time more equally, the child support is calculated on a “Worksheet B.”

There is also a “Worksheet C,” if the children reside in different households, usually meaning that one parent has primary custody of one child, and the other parent has primary custody of another child.

While child support calculations consider each parent’s financial responsibilities to their child(ren), if either party had children prior to entering their current relationship, the amount of child support is calculated based upon prior court orders. A child born after a child support order is entered to either party will be considered when and if the court order is reviewed for modification.

When there is health insurance coverage provided for the child(ren), the monthly insurance premium will be included in the calculation so that the nonpaying parent will end up bearing some of that cost as well.

Only the cost of the insurance premium attributable to the child(ren) would be included in child support calculations, even though a parent likely pays for his or her own insurance as well as insurance for his or her child(ren). The cost of the parent’s insurance is not a factor in a child support calculation.

Uninsured medical costs are divided pro rata pursuant to the Guidelines. For example, if one parent has $70,000 annual income and the other has $30,000, then they could share the uninsured costs with one paying 70 percent and the other paying 30 percent of each expense.

Because of the longevity and serious enforcement provisions surrounding child support orders, you should consider speaking with one of our attorneys to help you calculate the appropriate amount of child support.

Just as healthcare related costs are factored into your child support calculation, any type of child care related to working will also be factored into the amount of child support necessary each month.  Once the children are out of full-time day care, the costs will be averaged by looking at school time care and summer break care. It is important to think this number through very carefully because child care has a large impact on child support.

Many times, parents negotiate payment for college tuition and expenses; however, the courts have no power to order a parent to pay for college, unless he or she has already signed a formal agreement to do so. Because child support is intended to cover the basic needs of children for shelter, clothing, food, and basic medical care, there are many costs that are common when raising children that are not contemplated.  Some examples are the ever-growing cost of school supplies, fees for sports in public schools, field trips, driver’s insurance, SAT/ACT costs, college application costs, and extracurricular activities.  We try to help parents navigate a way to divide these costs fairly.

Child Support Guidelines are by statute the default manner of calculating child support, but the law does provide the ability to deviate if the legal factors exist.  Parents who’s combined incomes exceed the incomes in the Guidelines are so-called “Off Guidelines” cases, and the court must consider the actual costs incurred for raising the child(ren) and each parent’s ability to assist in meeting those needs. In Off Guideline cases, the list of expenses stated above that the Guidelines do not consider may be considered.