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How does child support work in North Carolina?

On Behalf of | Nov 10, 2023 | Divorce

Child support helps ensure a child’s well-being when their parents separate or divorce. North Carolina uses a structured process to calculate child support.

Both parents should understand how child support works to share this important financial responsibility.

Income shares model

North Carolina employs an income shares model to calculate child support. It considers the income of both parents to determine support amounts.  With this approach, children receive a fair and proportional level of support from both parents.

Gross income determination

First, the state determines each parent’s gross income. Gross income includes wages, salaries, bonuses and other forms of compensation. It also covers benefits such as Social Security and workers’ compensation.

Allowable deductions

After establishing gross income, the court allows certain deductions from each parent’s income. These include federal and state income taxes, Social Security contributions, mandatory retirement contributions and health insurance premiums.

Basic Child Support Obligation

Using the parents’ adjusted income, the court refers to the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines to find the Basic Child Support Obligation. This table establishes the family’s BCSO based on the number of children and the combined income of the parents.

The court divides the BCSO between the parents proportionally based on income. For example, if one parent earns 70% of their combined adjusted income, that person would be responsible for 70% of the BCSO. The other person would cover 30% of these expenses.

Additional considerations

In some cases, the court may add expenses such as childcare or health insurance to the child support calculation. The parents will also proportionally share these designated costs.

When parents have joint physical custody, the child support calculation may differ. In shared custody situations, the court takes into account the number of overnights each child spends with each parent. According to the Institute for Family Studies, about 71% of noncustodial fathers pay child support compared to 63% of fathers who have joint custody.

By adhering to the state’s guidelines and seeking assistance when needed, parents can reach a fair child support arrangement.