Child Support – When Money is on the Line

How much child support would a court order? How long does child support last? How is child support enforced? Lisa Angel, a Board Certified Family Law Specialist, answers these questions, and more.

Click here to access our Child Support Calculator.

Child Support Video – When Money is on the Line Transcript

Hi. I’m Lisa Angel and I’m going to talk with you about child support in North Carolina.

What I’d like to do is to answer three pretty common questions that I get about child support in North Carolina. The first is, how much child support would a court order? Second, how long does child support last? And then third, how is child support enforced? All of these issues, as well as others, are covered on our website, and please refer to the child support page on Rosen.com in order to answer even more questions about child support in North Carolina.

So let’s first talk about how child support in North Carolina is calculated. How much is the appropriate amount of child support for your case? In North Carolina, parents use what are called the child support guidelines. And those guidelines control — meaning that is what a court will do for families whose combined household income is less than $300,000 per year. That’s most families in North Carolina and most families are using the child support guidelines.

Before you can use those guidelines, though, you need to know which worksheet to use. In North Carolina we use worksheet A, B, and C. Which worksheet you use depends on how you work out the custody arrangements. So let’s talk about each one.

Parents use worksheet C if they have divided the children, so that one sibling is living with one parent and one sibling is living with another parent.

Parents use worksheet B if they’ve divided the time, so that the children are basically living with both parents half the time. There’s a magic number that we often use to figure child support on worksheet B and that number is 122 overnights. If the children are staying with both parents more than 122 overnights a year, those parents will use worksheet B.

Parents use worksheet A when the children are staying with one parent less than 122 overnights per year.

It doesn’t matter what we call the custody arrangement, however. The words “joint custody,” “sole custody,” “shared parenting” can all be used to describe the custody arrangement. What matters for child support purposes is what’s actually happening and where the children actually live and for how many overnights.

So once you determine the worksheet that you will use, the next thing to do is to use the actual child support guidelines. The way to do that is by using the calculator on our website, which will automatically determine the child support based on the guidelines.

The way that the guidelines work is that you put both parents’ gross monthly income into the calculator. That is the before-tax number. Income for child support purposes includes all income that is regular and reoccurring. So it can include bonuses and commission, dividend/interest income, all income gets factored into child support. Then each parent will get credit for certain expenses that they may pay for the children, credits related to the children’s medical insurance premium or day care costs.

Once you determine the appropriate amount of child support, then you have a sense of exactly how much the judge would award for families whose combined household income is less than $300,000 per year. So that’s the first question:  How much?

Now let’s talk about how long does child support last in North Carolina? A judge in North Carolina can obligate a parent to pay child support until the children turn 18 or graduate from high school, whichever’s later, but never past age 20.

Now, for a lot of people there’s a bit omission in that statement, which is college. College is not something that a judge could make a parent pay for, but it is something that parents can agree on in a well-drafted separation agreement. So if you’re concerned about college or paying for college, you need to talk to your attorney about including or not including that issue in a separation agreement.

The third question:  How does child support get enforced? In North Carolina, and in all states, there are a lot of very powerful enforcement mechanisms related to child support. If someone is not paying child support, their wages can be garnished, their tax refunds intercepted, their driver’s license taken away, and they can even be put in jail until they pay their child support.

If you’re having trouble with child support being paid or cannot afford an attorney, you should consider a child support enforcement agency in your county. There is one in every county in North Carolina and it’s an agency that will help you get a child support order set up, have it enforced in North Carolina, or have it enforced in another state. So consider those issues if you’re having difficulty enforcing child support.

Once again, I would encourage you to hire an attorney to talk with you directly about all these issues. And consider using the child support calculator on our website so that you have a good understanding of the amount and the duration of the child support.

Take a look at the other videos available on Rosen.com. They’re great resources for helping you decide how to proceed with your case.

And thank you for watching. I’m Lisa Angel with the Rosen Law Firm.


[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]