An action for child support is brought by a parent who believes he or she is owed financial support for the care of a minor child(ren). North Carolina uses a set of guidelines to determine the appropriate amount of child support in each particular case. The guidelines mandate the factors that are to be considered in a determination of child support, and the calculations for determining child support.
The factors that must be taken into account in cases that follow the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines are as follows:
- each party’s gross income,
- the number of nights the child(ren) spend with each parent,
- how many other minor children each parent has (who live with them),
- any pre-existing child support obligations,
- the amount of work-related childcare costs,
- the amount of health insurance costs, and
- any extraordinary expenses.
North Carolina has three different child support worksheets (Worksheet A, Worksheet B, and Worksheet C) that each have a different formula for determining child support. The custody schedule for the child(ren) will determine which worksheet that is appropriate in each particular case. Worksheet A is used when one parent has primary custody and the other parent has limited visitation. Worksheet B is used when the parents share joint custody (each parent has at least 123 overnights per year). Worksheet C is used when there is more than one child, and each parent has primary custody of one or more of the children.
When a child support action is filed, both parties will be required to complete and file Financial Affidavits, and provide certain documentation to support the numbers used on those affidavits. The documents required in most cases are pay stubs, W2s, tax returns, proof of child care expenses, and sometimes bank statements. If one party owns their own business, or the other party believes they are suppressing their income, additional documentation may be requested through a process called Discovery, or through subpoenas.
In a limited number of cases, the guidelines are not an appropriate means by which to determine child support. When one or both parents make over the monthly income contemplated by the guidelines, the appropriate amount of child support is determined based on the income split between the parties and the reasonable needs and expenses of the child(ren). There are also some circumstances in which it may be appropriate for one party to ask the court to deviate from the guidelines. If you believe your case may require a deviation from the guidelines, you should speak with an attorney who can explain the process to request such a deviation.
One a child support order is put in place, a party may request a modification upon a significant change in circumstances. The Courts presume that a review is warranted after three years or when there has been more than a 15% change.