How Much Does Child Support Cost in North Carolina?
Congress first passed federal laws establishing child support guidelines in the 1980’s to accomplish three main goals:
- financially help children living in a single parent household;
- encourage payment of child support and
- promote consistent contact between parent and child
Today, many of those same guidelines exist in order to ensure the safety, well-being and financial upbringing of children living in single parent households. As any parent knows, paying for a child’s needs can be an expensive endeavor. While every situation is different, there are some basic principles you can use to estimate how much you should expect to pay in child support:
Establishing Child Support Payments: Who Pays and How Much?
In North Carolina, courts calculate and divide financial responsibility among parents. The amount of child support for which each parent is responsible typically stems from the parents’ individual gross incomes, child care expenses, health insurance costs and the number of nights each parent has the minor child in their physical custody. The guidelines also include a self-support reserve which allows people paying child support to maintain a minimum standard of living. This means, should the paying parent’s income fit the criteria, their payment can be adjusted to a minimum level. Once the judge determines the appropriate amount, parents have an obligation to pay that amount.
If the paying parent fails to pay their obligation, they may be held in contempt of court. In addition, failure to pay child support could result in paychecks being garnished.
What if Gross Incomes are Higher than $300,000?
The statutory guidelines cover the combined annual gross incomes of the parties up to $300,000.00. If the parties’ income is higher than $300,000.00, then the guidelines do not apply. Rather, the court examines the needs and expenses of the children to determine the appropriate amount of support.
How is Income Defined?
Below are four categories of income the court considers when determining a parents’ income:
- Income – Money earned from employment, self-employment, ownership of a business, social security, government benefits, etc. All sources of income are considered in this category.
- Self-Employment or Operation of a Business – This will include rent, royalties, joint ownership of a corporation and more. This should be carefully reviewed as this does not include ordinary expenses or some tax deductions that come from regular business operations.
- Potential or Imputed Income – Should the courts determine that a parent has taken improper measures to lower the amount of child support the parent is responsible for paying, courts will calculate child support using the parent’s earning potential.
- Income Verification – A parent’s income will be verified at the time of the proceedings using that parent’s income statement.
Do you need help regarding a child support issue? The lawyers at Perry, Bundy, Plyler and Long LLP will help you navigate each step of the process from beginning to end. Give us a call at 704-289-2519 to schedule an appointment with one of our family law attorneys.