Getting Child Support for Your Special Needs Child

Written by Jonathan Breeden

May 24, 2019

Ending a relationship that involves minor children is a difficult endeavor. Resolving issues surrounding custody and child support during an emotional time is another burden parents face. The stakes are even higher when a situation involves a special needs child. You may wonder if you are entitled to additional child support because your child is disabled.

For serious issues such as these, you need the guidance of Jonathan Breeden, a North Carolina child support lawyer with years of experience in family law. To schedule a consultation of your case, call Breeden Law Office today (919) 661-4970, or reach out through the online form.

North Carolina Child Support Guidelines

While the state child support guidelines take into consideration parental income and custody arrangements, it does not discuss how to handle cases involving special needs children. In other words, support typically wouldn’t differ from that for a non-disabled child.

The North Carolina child support calculator asks for:

  • Monthly gross income
  • The amount each parent pays for other children
  • The amount each parent contributes towards children’s health insurance
  • The amount each parent contributes toward child care expenses
  • How many overnights children spend with each parent

Despite having no specific legal requirements, there are some ways that you may receive additional support for your disabled child:

Mutual Agreement

The parents of a special needs child can agree on support amounts above the state guidelines. The agreement would be a contract that would bind the parties to pay the amount agreed upon. Such arrangements need to be drafted by an experienced child support lawyer to be effective and legally compliant.

Extraordinary Expenses

Extraordinary expenses are considered while drafting a child support agreement. In North Carolina, private school expenses and some transportation costs are considered extraordinary, and are outside the normal costs of raising a child. An experienced child support lawyer could argue that additional costs for care of a disabled child are extraordinary, as well.

Court Deviation

The court has broad discretion to deviate from the child support worksheet if there is evidence doing so is in the best interests of the child. Evidence provided by a special needs child’s primary caretaker could prompt the judge to order additional support. A child support attorney will help you collect the evidence you need to make an argument for such a deviation.

Can Child Support Be Extended for a Disabled Child?

North Carolina General Statutes 50-13.4 provides that child support terminates when a child becomes emancipated or graduates from high school. If the child has reached 18, but has not graduated, support continues until graduation, the child quits school, or reaches age 20 – whichever is first.

As with child support calculations, nothing in the law speaks to an extension of time for child support payments based on a child’s special needs. The same rules apply for any other child under a support order. Without a legally-binding agreement, child support payments will end upon graduation, or by age 20 if the child is continuing to pursue a secondary education.

If you are concerned about support ending because your special needs child will never be physically or mentally independent, you should address the matter with a child support lawyer to see if a mutually agreeable solution can be found.

Contact Breeden Law Office for Help

If you have concerns about support issues related to your special needs child, you need to talk to child support lawyer Jonathan Breeden as soon as possible. With more than a decade of experience in family law, he understands how important it is to get the child support you need to care for a disabled child. Contact Breeden Law Office (919) 661-4970 to schedule an appointment today.


Divorce In North Carolina: What You Need To Know

A book by Jonathan Breeden