A Brighter Future Awaits.

Do I have to pay child support if I have full custody of my kids?

On Behalf of | May 8, 2023 | Family Law |

The answer is probably no, but it depends on what you mean by having full custody. In North Carolina, there are two types of child custody: legal and physical. You could have full legal custody and still owe child support if your ex has shared physical custody.

Physical custody is what counts for child support. Physical custody is the time you spend parenting your children and the right to do so. Legal custody, on the other hand, is the right to make decisions on your child’s behalf about things like education, religion, and medical care. You can have full legal custody but not primary physical custody.

A parent who has the children a majority of the time (243 nights or more during a single year) will generally receive child support. This is called having “primary physical custody.”

Parents are said to have “shared physical custody” when each parent has the children for at least 123 nights in a single year.  When parents share custody, the parent with the higher presumptive child support obligation pays the other parent child support.

How is child support determined in North Carolina?

According to North Carolina’s child support actions statute, both parents are responsible for supporting their children. The total amount of child support is to be an amount to “meet the reasonable needs of the child for health, education, and maintenance, having due regard to the estates, earnings, conditions, accustomed standard of living of the child and the parties, the child care and homemaker contributions of each party, and other facts of the particular case.”

That sounds like child support orders are different in each case. In reality, the vast majority of child support orders are based on North Carolina’s child support guidelines. This is a set of rules and a calculation schedule.

Although it relies on a formula, a child support obligation is set based on a combination of the parent’s incomes and the time they each spend with the children.

To figure out what will generally be ordered, you scan down the left-hand side of the schedule and look for the parents’ combined adjusted gross income, then match that up with the number of children involved in this child support determination. The schedule goes up to a combined adjusted gross income of $30,000 per month and six children. If your circumstances exceed this, the court will make a final determination outside the child support guidelines.

If you have questions about how child support will be determined in your case, a lawyer can help answer them. Be sure to hire a compassionate attorney who will go the extra mile for you and your family.


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