In North Carolina, guidelines are in place for parents to determine minimum child support obligations based on several factors. North Carolina provides a set of worksheets and a calculator for determining how child support is appropriated between parents responsible for their children’s well being. As with other elements of your divorce, child support outside of the minimum guidelines can be agreed upon by parents and memorialized in a Separation Agreement. Generally speaking, courts will make a child support obligation a part of the final judgment of divorce so that jurisdiction can be maintained if support needs to be modified in the future.
North Carolina Child Support Guidelines
If the parties are not able to come to an agreement relative to the amount of child support, North Carolina provides a guidelines for calculating child support that can help parents better understand the financial obligations each may have toward the care and support of their children. If left to the courts to decide, a Judge will determine the amount of support to be paid from one parent to the other after considering the income diversity of the parties and several factors relative to the care of the children. These will include the gross income of the parents, the amount of time a child spends with each parent, work-related childcare costs, medical insurance costs, and any special needs. Though a court may deviate from the resulting figures when certain conditions exist, courts will consider and often use the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines when they calculate the amount owed from one parent to the other.
Though the formulas are complex, utilization of the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines worksheets is intended to be less so. By plugging in approximate information, an approximate amount of child support payable can be arrived at, giving parties an excellent starting point for negotiation and agreement on the issue of child support. The worksheets are set up for three different custody scenarios.
What if Child Custody or Support Needs to be Modified?
Both custody and support are issues over which a court maintains jurisidiction, the authority to change or modify its initial rulings, based on a change in the circumstances of the parents and/or the best interest of the child. Custody and support can be modified at any time before a child reaches their age of majority (18 years), is emancipated or graduates if circumstances permit. Either parent can request the court modify any prior order for custody or support upon proving substantial change in circumstances or the welfare of the child/children in question.
Termination of Child Support
Child support obligations remain in effect until a child reaches the age of 18 or is legally emancipated. If a child is still attending primary or secondary school when the age of majority is reached, courts will order continuation of a parent’s child support obligation until graduation. All child support obligations cease the child fails to regularly attend school or reaches the age of 20, whichever first occurs.
Parents may agree to child support obligations beyond the guidelines’ time limitations, but the court does not have authority to require to pay for a child’s college education or to maintain life insurance for the benefit of the child.
Unlike alimony, child support obligations do not provide tax deductions for the paying parent, nor is the receiving parent required to report child support as taxable income. The Child Support guidelines assume that the parent with primary custody will claim dependency exemptions for the children. Negotiation of child support obligations to take into consideration consequences concerning income, exemptions, and other tax related issues are commonplace.
Questions surrounding the support and custody of your children are often the most daunting of issues parents face when considering divorce. A qualified and experienced lawyer can help you clearly understand all of the issues surrounding support and custody matters, and the long-term ramifications your decisions may have. Call Daren Gum today for consultation. He can help you nail down these important factors allowing you to move forward confidently in your divorce.