Child Support

North Carolina like most, if not all states considers child support to be the most important payment separated spouses will make, taking precedence over alimony and over one’s personal needs. North Carolina allows parents to enter into separation or custody agreements wherein child support can be agreed to at whatever level the parties deem appropriate. However, if the parties cannot agree or litigation to resolve child support ensues child support is generally calculated and ordered using the child support guidelines to determine a presumptive amount of child support owed by one parent to the other.

Experienced Attorneys in the Charlotte Area

The family law attorneys at Weaver, Bennett & Bland, P.A. have more than 40 years of combined experience in dealing with complex and difficult child support cases as well as “simple” guideline cases. Each case is treated as a unique and important matter, as it truly is to client and to the children. The goal is at all times the most complete and fair child support arrangement for the client and the children. Contact us to schedule a consultation to discuss your options for child support in Charlotte.

How is Child Support Calculated?

CHILD SUPPORT CALCULATOR 

There are three “types” of guidelines each using a different worksheet depending on the custody arrangement agreed upon by the parties or ordered by the Court:

Worksheet “A” is utilized for standard custody visitation scenarios where one parent has primary custody and the other has visitation amounting to 122 overnight visits or less per year. In this scenario, the party with visitation will pay child support to the primary custodian taking into account the combined incomes of the parties, the costs of health insurance for the children and the costs of work-related daycare as determined by the worksheet.

Worksheet “B” is used when the parents have a “shared” custody arrangement wherein each parent has the child residing with him or her at least 123 overnights a year. The same factors are used in this worksheet, but the effect of the calculation is that one parent pays child support at their income level for the time the children spend with the other parent and the other parent pays child support based on their income for the time the children spend with their counter-parent. Instead of a transfer of funds back and forth the court just makes the parent with the higher obligation pay the difference between the two to the other parent lesser obligated parent. Each parent is supposed to pay for the child’s expenses during their time with that parent with a true sharing of the expenses taking place due to the decreased child support obligation from what would be ordered under Worksheet “A.”

Worksheet “C” is the “split” custody scenario where one parent has primary custody of one child and the other parent has primary custody of one or more other children. This is somewhat rare.

There are a couple of other factors that can be calculated into a guideline worksheet. The income of a parent used to calculate child support will be lessened by a pre-existing responsibility for other children. In addition, extraordinary expenses for education, medical needs and transportation may be used in the same fashion as the day care or health insurance figures.

Situations arise where the guidelines may be considered unfair, such as the child’s needs being significantly higher than what is provided by the guidelines or where the guidelines are extremely high considering the low income of the supporting parent. In such cases, the party seeking a more fair calculation cam request a deviation from the Court.

Another situation may arise where the combined incomes of the parties is more than $25,000 a month. In this case, the guidelines are not used, rather, the Court must have a hearing to determine and set child support “in such amount as 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…”

“The guidelines include a self-support reserve that ensures that obligors have sufficient income to maintain a minimum standard of living based on the 2014 federal poverty level for one person ($973.00 per month). For obligors with an adjusted gross income of less than $1097.00, the Guidelines require, absent a deviation, the establishment of a minimum support order ($50). For obligors with adjusted gross incomes above $1097.00, the Schedule of Basic Support Obligations incorporates a further adjustment to maintain the self-support reserve for the obligor.” North Carolina Child Support Guidelines, Effective January 1, 2015, Revised August 31, 2015. Page 2, 2015 Administrative Office of the Courts

Income in North Carolina is similar to income in the US tax code “Income is income from whatever source derived,” however the guidelines are more specific.

“Income” means a parent’s actual gross income from any source, including but not limited to income from employment or self-employment (salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, dividends, severance pay, etc.), ownership or operation of a business, partnership, or corporation, rental of property, retirement or pensions, interest, trusts, annuities, capital gains, Social Security benefits, workers compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability pay and insurance benefits, gifts, prizes and alimony or maintenance received from persons other than the parties to the instant action. When income is received on an irregular, non-recurring, or one-time basis, the court may average or prorate the income over a specified period of time or require an obligor to pay as child support a percentage of his or her non-recurring income that is equivalent to the percentage of his or her recurring income paid for child support.” North Carolina Child Support Guidelines, Effective January 1, 2015, Revised August 31, 2015. Page 3, 2015 Administrative Office of the Courts.

All income supporting documents should be reviewed carefully to determine the true income of a party. This is even more important in cases of self-employment where much income can be diverted or hidden. Unfortunately, it may take litigation to obtain the documents necessary to calculate the true income of a business owner.