Child support may either be agreed upon by the parties through a separation agreement or one party may requestthat the district court make the award. Significantly, because a separation agreement is a contract, the parties may agree for a parent to assume child support obligations greater than those which the law imposes. Parties may wish for example to use a separation agreement to provide for private schooling, college or post-high school education, summer camp, life insurance for the minor’s benefit in the event of the death of the parent paying child support, cost of living increases, extension of support beyond the age of eighteen, and transfer of the dependency exemption. With the exception of pre-college schooling and extracurricular expenses, these are all items that the North Carolina court, under its own authority, cannot order. If a separation agreement containing such “extra” items is eventually incorporated into a consent order, the court then has the power to enforce contract provisions the court itself could not mandate in the first instance. But because North Carolina law cannot require the parent paying child support to obligate him- or herself to pay for college of to purchase life insurance to secure child support payments, many parents will refuse to enter into separation agreements containing such provisions.