Child support plays a vital role in ensuring the well-being of a child or children when their parents are no longer together. In North Carolina, understanding what child support covers is essential for both custodial and non-custodial parents, as both bear an equal responsibility to provide financial support for their child or children.
The custodial parent, who has the majority of the parenting time and physical custody, is presumed to contribute to child support through their day-to-day childcare expenses, including costs related to food, clothing, housing, and other necessities.
On the other hand, the non-custodial parent, who has less parenting time, typically does not cover these day-to-day expenses or contributes significantly less.
The court is responsible for determining the precise child support obligations and the structure of the payment arrangement in each case. Generally, the non-custodial parent is required to make child support payments until the child reaches the age of 18 or completes high school, whichever occurs later. However, the obligation typically does not extend beyond the 20th birthday of the child.
Child support encompasses various expenses necessary for a child’s upbringing and maintenance. By exploring the scope of child support coverage in North Carolina, parents can gain clarity on the specific areas where financial support is allocated. This article delves into the key aspects of what child support covers in North Carolina, shedding light on the essential needs it addresses and the principles underlying its determination. For a comprehensive understanding of how child support is determined in North Carolina and to explore the specifics of the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines, we recommend referring to our earlier article how much is child support in NC? which provides detailed information on how courts in our state establish child support arrangements.
Child support in North Carolina is intended to cover the essential daily needs of the minor child. Child support aims to ensure that the child’s standard of living is maintained and that they enjoy the same quality of life they would have if both parents were living together. The specific amount considered sufficient may vary as different individuals hold varying opinions. However, child support payment amounts are determined by the income and parenting time of the non-custodial parent. These payments cover essential needs, such as
- Shelter and housing provisions
- Education and schooling expenses
- Entertainment costs (such as movies, games, and social activities)
- Attire (including regular clothing, school uniforms, baby clothes, and diapers)
- Food, encompassing school lunches
- Health insurance coverage
The calculation of child support determines the total legally required amount of support from both parents, considering factors such as custody time and income disparities. Additionally, when the court calculates the child support amount, it considers the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines and takes into account any existing payments made by either parent. For instance, if the parent paying child support already covers the child’s health insurance, those payments will be factored into the child support calculations.
At LegaMart, we specialize in child support cases and are committed to simplifying the process for you. We will connect you with experienced international lawyers who are well-versed in the intricacies of child support calculations. By considering factors such as income, parenting time, and the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines, our attorneys ensure that the child support payment amounts are accurately determined.
Child support in North Carolina is governed by principles and guidelines that ensure both parents share the financial responsibility for their children. It is, therefore, essential to delve into the critical aspects of the child support system, including the shared responsibility of parents, the use of presumptive guidelines, and the possibility of modifying support orders based on changed circumstances as explored below; –
Both parents are responsible for providing financial support to their children, regardless of which parent makes the actual child support payments. The receiving parent is presumed to contribute their fair share of financial support for the child’s well-being. In North Carolina, courts adhere to presumptive guidelines when calculating child support. If the parents’ combined income is below $360,000, the state employs an “income shares” approach, treating the total gross income of the family as a single entity.
This calculation considers the individual incomes of each parent, the number of overnights the child spends with each parent, health insurance coverage paid by one parent on behalf of the child, work-related childcare expenses, and the child’s specific needs. The calculations use predetermined percentages to determine the proportionate child support obligation for each parent. Once the payment amount is established, the paying parent must make monthly support payments accordingly.
Courts have the discretion to deviate from the presumption mentioned above if requested by either party and upon determining that the guideline amounts would not adequately meet the reasonable needs of the child, taking into account the relative ability of each parent to provide support, or if it would be unjust or inappropriate. During this examination, evidence of each parent’s financial resources, contributions to the household, standard of living, and other relevant factors specific to the case may be considered.
When child support payments are not made by the specified deadline, the outstanding amount is called “arrears.” Over time, these child support arrears accumulate and become legally binding obligations that the court cannot alter. Neglecting to fulfill child support obligations can result in severe consequences, including the suspension of driving and professional licenses, wage garnishment, and even imprisonment.
Child support orders have the potential to be modified if the party seeking the modification can present evidence of “changed circumstances” since the previous order was issued. Such changes typically involve notable increases or decrease in income, alterations in the child’s needs necessitating adjustments in financial support, or modifications to the custodial schedule.
When dealing with parental responsibilities and financial obligations, it’s essential to understand the distinction between child custody and child support. Understanding these distinctions is crucial for parents navigating their children’s care and financial support issues.
Child custody encompasses a parent’s legal and physical rights and responsibilities over their child. Legal custody involves making important decisions regarding the child’s health, welfare, education, and religious upbringing, while physical custody relates to the daily care and supervision of the child. Different types of child custody exist, each representing varying combinations of legal and physical rights:
- Physical Custody: In this arrangement, the child resides with one parent chosen by the court, while the other parent has scheduled visitation rights to interact with the child regularly.
- Legal Custody: With this type of custody, the child lives with both parents, allowing them to share decision-making responsibilities.
- Joint Custody: Under joint custody, the child resides with both parents based on a reasonable schedule agreed upon by the separated parents.
- Sole Custody: In this custody arrangement, exclusive custody is granted to one parent if the other is deemed unfit to provide proper care and upbringing for the child.
- Third-Party Custody: This form of custody involves transferring the child’s control to a third person, such as a guardian, rather than the parents.
Child support typically refers to the financial contribution that a non-custodial parent provides to the custodial parent to assist in the upbringing of their child when the parents live apart. There are two common approaches to establishing child support: an informal arrangement between the parents outside of court, where they agree on a specific amount, or a court-issued child support order.
It is a legal requirement for parents to provide financial support for their children until they reach the age of majority, which is typically eighteen years old. However, this obligation may extend beyond that age in some instances, such as when a child has special needs.
When parents share physical custody of the child, child support calculations consider the percentage of time the child spends with each parent and the income of each parent relative to their combined incomes. This ensures a fair distribution of financial responsibility based on the respective circumstances of both parents. By considering these factors, child support arrangements aim to provide adequate support for the child’s upbringing and well-being. If you need assistance drafting and reviewing child support or custody agreements, LegaMart’s legal experts can provide a thorough analysis promptly.
Child Support Enforcement (CSE) was created by Congress in 1975 to ensure that both parents are responsible for supporting their children to the best of their ability. This program is known as Child Support Services (CSS) in North Carolina. CSS offers services to custodians of minor children, irrespective of their income level.
Parents can enter a Voluntary Support Agreement (VSA) for child support in North Carolina. This agreement is voluntarily signed by both parties and subsequently approved by a judge. Once the judge signs the VSA, it holds the legal status of a court order and can be enforced by the court if necessary.
Child support in North Carolina can be established through a court order. When parents cannot agree on child support outside of court, they can turn to the judicial system for assistance. The court will review various factors, such as the income of both parents, the child’s needs, and the custody arrangement, to determine the appropriate amount of child support to be paid. Once the court order is issued, it becomes legally binding, and both parents must comply with its terms. The court will specify the amount of child support to be paid, the frequency of payments, and any additional provisions related to medical expenses, education, or other relevant costs.
A Separation Agreement is a legal document that outlines the terms of separation between a married couple, including matters related to child custody and support. If the parents can agree on child support, they can include specific provisions regarding the amount and payment arrangements in the Separation Agreement. Once the Separation Agreement is finalized and approved by the court, it becomes a legally enforceable document.
Various factors must be carefully considered when determining child support to ensure a fair and appropriate arrangement. Some of the critical factors that come into play include;
The gross income of both parents is crucial in calculating child support. The term “gross income” refers to each parent’s complete sum of income, encompassing various sources. In North Carolina, gross income includes regular salaries and wages and additional forms of payment such as bonuses, overtime pay, gifts, retirement income, pensions, interest, dividend income, inheritances, prizes, lottery winnings, and other similar sources. It encompasses all sources of income from virtually every possible avenue. When calculating child support, determining gross income considers these diverse income streams to provide a comprehensive assessment of each parent’s financial resources.
The type of custody arrangement, whether it is sole custody, joint custody, or primary custody, plays a crucial role in determining the financial responsibilities of each parent. For instance, in sole custody, the non-custodial parent typically bears a more significant financial obligation in terms of child support; in joint custody, the financial responsibilities are usually divided more equitably between the parents; and in primary custody, where one parent has direct physical control while the other parent has visitation rights, the custodial parent typically assumes a larger share of the financial responsibility. The specific details of the custody arrangement, including the parenting schedule and the division of expenses, are carefully considered when determining the child support obligations of each parent.
The parent with more parenting time incurs higher direct costs for the child’s daily needs, such as housing, food, clothing, and transportation. Thus, the parenting schedule is carefully assessed to ensure a fair allocation of financial responsibilities between the parents.
For instance, a custodial parent has more parenting time and may bear a larger share of the financial responsibility for meeting the child’s day-to-day needs. While the non-custodial parent has less parenting time and may be required to provide child support payments to help bridge the financial gap and ensure the child’s well-being. Additionally, the specific parenting schedule, including weekdays, weekends, holidays, and vacations, is also considered when determining each parent’s financial obligations.
The court acknowledges that providing adequate healthcare for the child is a shared financial responsibility of both parents. Health insurance premiums and any additional costs associated with adding the child to a parent’s insurance plan are carefully considered to ensure the child’s access to necessary medical care. Additionally, medical bills and prescription costs for the child’s healthcare are factored in, covering expenses such as doctor visits, hospitalizations, surgeries, medications, and specialized treatments. Accurate documentation from both parents is crucial in ensuring a fair assessment of these healthcare expenses.
Childcare costs may include expenses related to daycare centers, after-school programs, babysitters, nannies, or other childcare arrangements. The actual cost of childcare and the number of hours and days the child requires care are considered. To ensure a fair assessment, the custodial parent must provide accurate documentation and evidence of these childcare expenses.
In North Carolina, special needs and associated costs are considered in child support calculations, and the related costs are factored into the analysis. Children with special needs often require additional resources and support, and the court recognizes the importance of including these extra costs in determining each parent’s financial obligations. Medical costs, such as therapy, treatments, medications, and assistive devices, as well as educational expenses like specialized schooling and support services, are considered. By considering these costs, North Carolina aims to ensure that children with special needs receive the necessary support and that financial responsibilities are distributed appropriately between parents.
There are 2 Income Models for Child Support:
The Income Shares Model is based on the idea that the child should receive the same proportion of parental income if both parents stay together. In an ideal scenario, the income earned by both parents is combined and spent for the child’s benefit. Through this model, the payment of both parents is calculated and accordingly divided as a contribution towards the child’s upbringing.
The specific guidelines for the division and how it is conducted vary by jurisdiction. However, some common factors that you may expect to be considered include the income of each parent, the number of children involved, additional expenses related to childcare (if any), education, healthcare, and special needs.
Generally, the parent with the higher income assumes a larger part of the obligation.
This model is used by forty-one states in the USA, including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming, Guam, Virgin Islands.
This model is also known as the “Income Percentage Model” or the “Income-based Model”. According to the Percentage Income Model, childcare support is calculated as a percentage of the income of the non-custodial parent, not the custodial parent. While the exact rate varies according to the jurisdiction, the number can be expected to increase with the number of children, with the rate typically set at 20% for one child. Therefore, if the income of the non-custodial parent is $40,000, and the parent has to support one child, then your obligation would be $800 per month as childcare. This can be known as the Flat Percentage Model, where the amount remains constant.
However, in the case of the Varying Percentage Model, the amount may vary depending on other factors such as healthcare costs, extraordinary circumstances, etc. Currently, 4 US states use the Flat Percentage Model (Alaska, Mississippi, Nevada, and Wisconsin), and 2 US States use the Varying Percentage Model (North Dakota and Texas).
Some action may be taken if the non-custodial parent believes the custodial parent is misusing the child support provided. The non-custodial parent can apply for a modification of the child support order and request a reduction in the value provided.
An alternative can be to ask the court to obligate the custodial parent to provide you with the accounting of the child support income to show how the money is being utilized.
In extreme situations where the custodial parent is unwilling to change their actions, you can file an abuse or neglect charge against the custodial parent. However, with relevant evidence, you are expected to have valid grounds to prove this. Basing your argument only on financials might not be sufficient in court proceedings.
In North Carolina, the Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program, administered by the North Carolina Division of Social Services, enforces child support orders and ensures compliance. They are also responsible for investigating allegations of misuse of child support. Hiring an attorney to analyze your legal options specific to your case and jurisdiction is also a good idea.
Generally, remarriage doesn’t impact child support provided in North Carolina. This is because child support is calculated based on the income of the child’s legal parents and not the payment of the new spouse.
Suppose you are a custodial parent receiving child support from a non-custodial parent and wish to remarry. In that case, you can expect to receive the same child support as you did before remarriage. However, there may exist some exceptions in your jurisdiction. For instance, North Carolina reduces the child support obligation after the remarriage of the custodial parent since the new spouse’s income is also factored in for child support in North Carolina.
If you are a non-custodial parent or hold partial custody of the child and pay child support, your new spouse is not held financially responsible for child support. Further, their income is not a factor considered by the courts. In some exceptional situations, if your disposable income has significantly increased after the remarriage, your court order might be reworked to factor in the increase. However, this is an infrequent occurrence.
If you decide to have more children with your new spouse, this does not impact your child support, and you do not have any legal obligations toward them.
In addition to child support, a non-custodial parent might be expected to pay additional expenses. This could be factored in within the original court order or added to the obligation later. Some common examples are:
- Medical and Healthcare expenses. This includes health insurance premiums, medical treatments, prescription medications, dental and vision care, etc. The costs vary on a case-to-case basis.
- Education expenses. This includes tuition fees, school supplies, uniforms, extracurricular activities, tutoring, special education services, etc.
- Extraordinary needs expenses. Depending on the special needs that the child requires, costs related to therapies, specialized equipment, medical treatments, and other services may be included within the obligations.
- Travel and Visitation Costs. The non-custodial parent is responsible for taking care of their visitation costs for visiting the child, especially if they have to travel long distances. This includes transportation costs, accommodations, and other reasonable expenses for maintaining their relationship with the child.
To conclude, child support in North Carolina means keeping the child’s interests at the forefront and ensuring that the separation of the parents has minimal effect on the child’s well-being. While the misuse of child support remains a valid concern however, through the involvement of appropriate authorities, such as the North Carolina Child Support Enforcement Office, you can commence proper actions to ensure that the funds are used for their intended purpose.
LegaMart can be helpful in your journey to child support coverage through personalized case evaluations and consultations anonymously, free-of-charge, and without any commitment. In addition, once you decide that LegaMart is the right platform for you, it can assist its legal team with document preparation, mediation, lternative dispute settlement procedures, case management and tracking, and access to resources and educational materials.
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In North Carolina, the expenses covered by child support are necessities, housing, education, healthcare, childcare, transportation, and other related costs, depending on the factual scenarios of each case.
North Carolina incorporates an Income Share Model, according to which the gross income of each parent is assessed and combined to establish the monthly net income made available for child care. The court usually analyzes the facts of the case and determines the right manner to go forward with the determination.
Yes. It is possible to modify child support under certain circumstances. However, a substantial change in circumstances must exist for the courts to consider such a request. Some examples that are capable of warranting a child support modification are:
- A significant shift in parent income.
- Change in custodial arrangements.
- Medical, Educational, or Emergency expenses.
- Emancipation of the child is covered by child support.
Considering that the child’s well-being is at stake, failure to pay the required child support can have varying consequences for the parent. Some consequences include:
- Enforcement Actions. The North Carolina Support Enforcement (CSE) Program can use several methods, such as wage garnishment, interception of tax refunds, and seizing assets or property to satisfy the child support debt.
- Contempt of Court. Suppose the parent fails to pay the child support. In that case, it can lead to contempt of court, where the custodial parent can file a motion alleging contempt and the court can impose penalties such as fines, probation, or even incarceration until the child support payments are made.
- License Suspension. This includes driver’s, professional, occupational, or recreational licenses.
- Legal Actions. The most common consequence is initiating legal action, such as filing a lawsuit to collect unpaid child support or seeking a court order for the non-paying parent to comply with their child support obligations.