Getting Your Child What He Needs: An Introduction to North Carolina Child Support

Part of the judge’s final decree in a divorce case will establish the ground rules for care of any minor children the couple may have. North Carolina state law recognizes how easily a divorce can harm the lives of young children, so the court system takes pains to guarantee each child has a chance to flourish. Children are not to be used as pawns in a war between divorcing spouses.

Responsible parents should strive to deal fairly with their children. If the parents can agree on child custody and child support between themselves, they will have gone a long way in taking their North Carolina divorce into their own hands. If the divorcing parents develop a mutually agreeable plan for child custody and support, the judge will make that agreement part of the final divorce decree as long as it serves the child’s best interest.

If the parents cannot agree, the judge will make the decisions about child support with input from attorneys for either spouse.

Child Support Guidelines

North Carolina has developed a series of guidelines for child support in divorce cases. The purpose of those guidelines, according to Chapter 50 of the North Carolina Statutes, is to “meet the reasonable needs of the child for health, education, and maintenance.”

Keep in mind that these are simply guidelines, not rigid rules that must be obeyed. State law says that the judge in each case is also required to exercise “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.” Thus, the judge has the power to modify how the guidelines are applied in each individual case.

As with many other states, North Carolina relies on an income shares model for the initial estimate of child support due. The principle is that a child should receive the same fraction of the parents’ income after a divorce that he would have had if the parents remained married. Factors such as the income and assets of each parent, the custody arrangements for each child, and the number of other minor children being supported by each parent become factors in calculating the estimated support due.

Making Child Support Payments

Child support payments in North Carolina are made monthly, and are due on the first of the month. Usually, the non-custodial parent will deliver payments to the custodial parent directly, but an intermediary may be used if there is known to be conflict between the parents.

Failure to make child support payments in a timely manner is a criminal misdemeanor in North Carolina. The offending party can be arrested and sent to jail for up to 150 days, depending on his previous criminal record.

If you have been facing difficulty collecting overdue child support payments from your ex-spouse, or if you are considering obtaining a divorce in North Carolina, the Wilmington family law attorneys at Speaks Law Firm stand ready to answer your questions. Call us today at 910-341-7570 (locally) or 877-593-4233 (toll-free) to see how we can help you.

R. Clarke Speaks
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Trial Lawyer and Founder of Speaks Law Firm, P.C.