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What are North Carolina’s Child Support Guidelines?

On Behalf of | Jun 30, 2020 | Family Law |

In North Carolina, both parents are expected to provide financial support for their children. Child support is determined by the Court based on the application of the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines. A child support order can be obtained as part of a divorce, or as part of a voluntary support agreement or contract between the parties.

North Carolina’s child support guidelines are what courts in our state are required to use when making either a temporary or permanent child support order. They lay out the basic rules for child support and factors including:

  • Each parent’s gross income from virtually all sources
  • Each parent’s existing support obligations for other children
  • Expenses related to the child, including the cost of child care, health insurance and healthcare
  • Extraordinary expenses such as the cost of private school tuition and medical costs for children with special needs.

The guidelines create what is called a “rebuttable presumption” that the child support obligation arrived at through a calculation under the guidelines is a reasonable child support order. This means that the court’s order can only deviate from your child support calculation if the court finds specific reasons for the deviation.

The court will also take into account the amount of time each parent spends caring for the child. When you spend time caring for a child, you generally pay any expenses that arise. Therefore, the more time you spend with your children under a court-ordered child custody schedule the lower your potential child support payment to the other parent.

Can child support be retroactive in North Carolina?

Yes. As a parent, you owe your children support regardless of whether there is a child support order in place. Therefore, the courts can order retroactive child support for the period before a child support order was entered. This is generally calculated based on 1) the amount that would have been due under the North Carolina child support guidelines; 2) A reasonable share of actual expenditures for the child’s care; or 3) as agreed in a valid, unincorporated separation agreement. Courts can generally look back for a period of three years to establish retroactive support.

Talk to an attorney about child support

North Carolina’s child support guidelines are complex. Although an attorney may not be required, if you are interested in obtaining a child support order as part of a divorce, a voluntary support agreement or through a contract with the other parent, it may be beneficial to contact a North Carolina child support attorney for help.


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