The state legal system determines family law matters. This means that decisions about child custody, child support and asset division may have slightly different guidelines in each state. In this post, we will delve into some of the basics about child support for families dealing with this issue in North Carolina.

Who is required to pay child support?

In North Carolina, as is true in most of the country, the state generally requires parents to provide financial support for their children. In most cases, the court can require a parent to provide funds for the child until the child reaches 18 years of age or graduates high school if they are still in school when they turn 18  In rare cases, a parent may be ordered to provide child support until their child reaches age 20.

How is child support calculated?

The state uses a calculation that considers each family’s financial circumstances. This calculation is referred to as the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines. The guidelines take into account several factors including the custody schedule between the parents, the gross income of each parent, and certain expenses such as healthcare and work-related childcare costs. Additional considerations can affect the calculation, including whether one or both parents have additional children from another relationship. The child support amount is often less if the parents have a joint custodial arrangement in which they share equal time with the children.

How do parents receive child support?

It is essential for parents to have legal documentation to better ensure the other parent makes the required child support payments. Parents may agree on the appropriate amount of support to be paid through the following documents:

  • Separation Agreement: Parents may come up with an arrangement in a document known as a Separation Agreement. The amount agreed to between parents will usually be upheld by a Court.
  • Consent Court Order: Another option involves both parents agreeing to a child support agreement in the form of a court order. Once parents reach a joint decision, a judge signs off on the agreement.

In other cases, the  parties may not agree and the judge will have to determine the proper amount of support using the child support guidelines.

Can I do this on my own?

Although it is possible to attempt the process on your own, it is often wise to seek legal counsel. An attorney experienced in family law matters can help you navigate this and other aspects of the divorce, better ensuring your interests are protected throughout the process.