Parents understand that children are a major responsibility. The end of a relationship through divorce or other factors does not end the responsibility to the children. The state of North Carolina has an interest in making sure that the parents live up to the responsibilities of raising their dependents. To that end, the state has established guidelines that the courts use to determine whether child support is needed to meet the reasonable needs of their children. Here are seven child support questions NC parents ask for a better understanding.
1. How is child support determined?
North Carolina has guidelines for setting child support amounts as in all states. These amounts are based on family income and the number of children. Current guidelines provide amounts for families with combined gross incomes up to $300,000 per year. These guidelines are reviewed at least every three years. If your combined gross income exceeds $300,000 per year, you and the other parent can negotiate an amount of support.
2. Who determines child support if we cannot reach a private agreement?
If you and the other parent are unable to reach agreement on child support, the court will determine the amount. Child support cases are heard by the District Court in the county in which the child or children reside. When the other parent lives in another state you may need to file a case in that state with the Clerk of Superior Court. You may also register a North Carolina order in the state where the other parent lives for enforcement. The courts base their ruling on the parents’ ability to pay and the reasonable needs of your child or children.
3. If the other parent and I have made a child support agreement, can the court overrule it?
Even if you and the other parent agree on child support obligations, the court still has the power of oversight and may enter a child support order or modify an existing order based on changed circumstances.
4. What if I need more child support than the guidelines?
The guidelines have some flexibility and allow for other circumstances such as your children’s special needs. The court may also take into account other factors. The judge may deviate upwards or downwards depending on your circumstances, whether the amount would meet children’s reasonable needs, and the parent’s ability to provide support.
5. What is accounted for in child support payments?
Child support payments account for things such as basic needs (food, clothing, and shelter), medical expenses, health insurance coverage, school-related needs, childcare, and extracurricular activities. Certain expenses are beyond the court’s powers and can be privately agreed upon for inclusion in child support payments. College education is one example.
6. How long is child support paid?
Child support payments are paid until the 18th birthday or until graduation from high school, whichever occurs later. If the child or children are making reasonable efforts to complete high school, payments may extend until the age of 20. You may always agree to extend to a higher age through a separation agreement or court order. Support can also be extended for children who are physically or mentally unable to self-support. North Carolina law requires support for as long as they are unable to support themselves.
7. Can I change or stop the child support I pay if I am not allowed visitation with my child?
Child support is a separate matter from visitation rights. You must still pay child support even if you’re not allowed to visit. A parent who has custody may not refuse visitation because of nonpayment of child support. Visitation rights must be dealt with in the courts.
Child Support Questions NC Parents are Asking
Some parents facing issues concerning child support, visitation, or custody are able to come to mutual agreements. It is wise to consult a lawyer to make sure your rights, needs, and capabilities are considered. Emblem Legal is highly experienced and knowledgeable about family law, including child support. Contact us today for a consultation.