A divorce is a tumultuous time, and when the situation involves children, it’s even more important to sort through the issues quickly and reasonably. When parents are at odds, there’s enough physical and emotional upheaval for children without adding the stress of a hostile custody and child support battle.
Parents should understand North Carolina’s child support guidelines before they head into court so they aren’t caught by surprise. This is best achieved by working with an experienced North Carolina child support lawyer like Jonathan Breeden.
Attorney Jonathan Breeden has worked with families for more than 20 years, offering legal guidance, compassion, and support during the difficult periods of their lives. He ensures his clients understand their custody rights, support obligations, and fights to create the best possible situation for the children.
Whether you believe you should seek child support or may be asked to pay, North Carolina family attorney Jonathan Breeden can help. To speak with an experienced child support attorney today, call our office at (919) 661-4970
In North Carolina, a non-custodial parent may be required by the court to make payments to the custodial parent for the purpose of caring for minor children. These payments are to benefit the children, not to financially support the other parent, and are based on a monthly schedule. In some situations, a property transfer can also be a means of child support.
Child support payments are generally meant for more than clothing, food, and shelter. Child support payments can be used to cover all of the children’s needs – not just the most basic necessities. As any parent knows, children come with a variety of expenses, such as:
Child support in North Carolina ends when a child reaches 18 and finishes high school, unless an exception has been made. If a child is in school and making progress toward a high school diploma, support can extend up until his or her 20th birthday.
Parents often come to a mutual decision regarding when and how much child support will be paid. There is no requirement in North Carolina to settle this matter in court. However, if the parents can’t come to an agreement, the matter will be determined by the judge.
The state bases child support payments on the income shares model, which assumes it is both parents’ obligation to financially support their children. Ultimately, the children should benefit from the same proportion of their parents’ incomes that they would have received if their parents were still married.
North Carolina has strict instructions on how to determine child support for families that make less than $300,000 per year. All of the parents’ incomes are included in the calculations, including:
Once the parents’ gross incomes are determined, the court takes into consideration the number of children and the specific custody arrangement.
There is a mandatory $50 per month child support payment for parents who earn less than $999 per month. For those who make more than this, the guidelines are based on the cost of raising children determined by the Center for Policy Research.
To best protect the children involved while also attempting to be reasonable toward each parent, the court will try and consider as many points as possible. The objective is to get an accurate picture of the financial situation of all parties involved, but not to be obscured by personal animosity or the emotional challenges present. The information considered in your child support case include:
In cases where a parent is re-married, the income of that parent’s new spouse is almost never considered when calculating child support.
The court has the final say in calculating child support, and the judge can deviate from normal child support guidelines if it feels it is best for the children involved.
Some of the reasons a court may deviate from the normal child support guidelines include:
The state of North Carolina offers a calculator to show what the regular guidelines would require of two parents who are seeking to determine shared responsibilities for their child. It’s important to note that this calculator is simply for informational purposes and is not to be taken as legal advice or as the expected child support payments in your case. Your lawyer will help you understand what you can expect given your situation.
As an example of the state’s guidelines being applied in a hypothetical scenario, consider a case where an only child has the following parents:
Parent A will have an adjusted support obligation of approximately $555 per month.
A child support calculator is available through the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website. However, an experienced North Carolina child support lawyer also can explain what you can expect based on your circumstances.
Whether you’re a parent asking to receive child support or if you’re being asked to pay, it’s crucial you provide an honest representation of your income and what you’re able to provide while maintaining a healthy standard of living. You’ll generally be required to prove your income as well as provide an accounting of your children’s needs and expenses.
Once an order has been made, the child support payments become a legal obligation. In addition to the Federal Child Support Enforcement Program, the state created its own enforcement laws. The North Carolina Child Support Enforcement program is part of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. Both custodial and non-custodial parents can sign on to the website and review details of their case. Payments can also be made through the site.
In some situations, parents have been separated for some time before a child support ruling is entered. Sometimes the parents have shared financial responsibility during that period. However, other times the primary caretaker has shouldered most of the burden. If a judge feels it’s in the children’s best interest, he or she may apply North Carolina’s guidelines retroactively up to three years from the date the action for child support is commenced.
A judge will take into consideration many issues when determining how much support is appropriate. If the judge finds the calculated amount wouldn’t fit the children’s needs, he or she may deviate from North Carolina’s guidelines.
A child support agreement or order can change in the future if there has been a significant change in a parent’s circumstances or three years have passed since the current order was entered. A non-custodial parent can seek a modification if he or she can demonstrate the change would raise or lower the payments by 15 percent.
It can be difficult to understand and assert your rights as a parent, and calculating child support can be extremely stressful for all involved. You want to make sure that everyone is giving their fair share, but there are factors to consider and child support has long-term ramifications.
A qualified North Carolina child support attorney can help you understand the likelihood of a child support order and estimate the amount you’re likely to receive or pay. In addition, if the amount does not meet the needs of the children or is too high and causing financial stress, you’ll want an experienced North Carolina family lawyer on your side.
Jonathan Breeden has been helping North Carolina families through the challenges of negotiating and enforcing child support agreements for more than 19 years. He provides compassionate and strong representation designed to obtain an outcome that is fair and in the best interests of your family’s future.
Call Breeden Law Office today at (919) 661-4970 schedule a consultation to learn how Jonathan Breeden can help with your child support case.
Call Breeden Law Office today:(919) 296-3978