Child & Spousal Support
How much child support will I have to pay?
In mediation, the question is not “How much will I have to pay?” A more appropriate question is, “How much is needed from me to help support our children?”
In mediation, we guide you through a process that helps the two of you derive an amount that both of you feel is appropriate and fair.
NC Child Support Guidelines Worksheets: The state provides a “calculator” in the form of worksheets to help you determine an amount for child support. If the two of you leave it up to the court to decide the amount, these Child Support Guidelines Worksheets would be used. However, you can choose to derive your own numbers in place of the Guidelines numbers.
The Worksheets take a very impersonal approach that considers the “average” family. But, your family is not average, and a more meaningful number can be arrived at by the two of you. In mediation, we use the Worksheets only as a guideline – an approximation of what the child support amount should be.
You can read all about it here: https://nddhacts01.dhhs.state.nc.us/GuideLines.jsp
Overview of the NC Child Support Guidelines
You can fill in the forms online. It’s pretty easy. Basically, you indicate the monthly gross income for each of you, and you indicate the number of overnights the kids will have for each of you. (For 1 child, it’s based on 365 overnights. For 2 children, it’s based on 730 overnights. etc.)
The Child Support Guidelines provide an estimate of how much child support should be paid by one parent to the other. The guidelines may be applied in situations where the combined gross income of both parents is between $25,000 and $300,000.
The guidelines are based on the concept that child support is a shared parental obligation and that a child should receive the same proportion of parental income he or she would have received if the child’s parents lived together. A schedule has been put together that estimates the cost of raising a child in an average household between birth and age 18, excluding child care, health insurance, and health care costs in excess of $250 per year. Expenses incurred in the exercise of visitation are not factored into the schedule.
In calculating the amount of child support, the guidelines start with your monthly gross income. It then calculates your income net of taxes (federal, NC, social security, medicare). Income of step-parents is not used. Income may be imputed for an unemployed or under-employed parent.
What’s included in “income”… “Income” means a parent’s actual gross income from any source, including but not limited to income from employment or self-employment (salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, dividends, severance pay, etc.), ownership or operation of a business, partnership, or corporation, rental of property, retirement or pensions, interest, trusts, annuities, capital gains, social security benefits, workers compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability pay and insurance benefits, gifts, prizes and alimony or maintenance received from persons other than the parties to the instant action.
The schedule assumes that the parent who receives child support claims the tax exemptions for the child, unless that parent has minimal or no income tax liability.
Payments for “Other” Children
Child support payments made by a parent under any pre-existing court order, separation agreement or voluntary support arrangement (for other than children for whom child support is being determined in the pending action) are deducted from the parent’s gross income.
A parent’s financial responsibility for his or her natural or adopted children who currently reside with the parent (other than children for whom child support is being determined in the pending action) is (a) equal to the basic child support obligation for these children based on the parent’s income if the other parent of these children does not live with the parent and children; or (b) one-half of the basic child support obligation for these children based on the combined incomes of both of the parents of these children if the other parent of these children lives with the parent and children.
Alimony payments are not deducted from gross income but may be considered as a factor to vary from the final presumptive child support obligation.
Reasonable child care costs that are, or will be, paid by a parent due to employment or job search are added to the basic child support obligation and prorated between the parents based on their respective incomes. When the gross monthly income of the parent paying child care costs falls below the amounts indicated below, 100% of child care costs are added.
- 1 child = $1,100
- 2 children = $1,500
- 3 children = $1,700
- 4 children = $1,900
- 5 children = $2,100
- 6 children = $2,300
At these income levels, the parent who pays child care costs does not benefit from the tax credit for child care. When the income of the parent who pays child care costs exceeds the amounts indicated above, only 75% of actual child care costs are added (because the parent is entitled to the income tax credit for child care expenses).
The amount that is, or will be, paid by a parent (or a parent’s spouse) for health insurance for the children for whom support is being determined is added to the basic child support obligation and prorated between the parents based on their respective incomes. Payments that are made by a parent’s (or stepparent’s) employer for health insurance and are not deducted from the parent’s (or stepparent’s) wages are not included. When a child for whom support is being determined is covered by a family policy, only the health insurance premium actually attributable to that child is added. If this amount is not available or cannot be verified, the total cost of the premium is divided by the total number of persons covered by the policy and then multiplied by the number of covered children for whom support is being determined. The court may order that uninsured medical or dental expenses in excess of $250 per year or other uninsured health care costs be paid by either parent or both parents in such proportion as the court deems appropriate.
Other extraordinary child-related expenses (including 1. expenses related to special or private elementary or secondary schools to meet a child’s particular educational needs, and 2. expenses for transporting the child between the parents’ homes) may be added to the basic child support obligation and ordered paid by the parents in proportion to their respective incomes if the court determines the expenses are reasonable, necessary, and in the child’s best interest.
Child Support Worksheets
Use Worksheet A when one parent has all of the children overnight for at least 243 nights during the year (2/3 of the year). Primary physical custody is determined without regard to whether a parent has primary, shared, or joint legal custody of a child. Do not use Worksheet A when (a) a parent has primary custody of one or more children and the parents share custody of one or more children [instead, use Worksheet B] or (b) when primary custody of two or more children is split between the parents [instead, use Worksheet C]. In child support cases involving primary physical custody, a child support obligation is calculated for both parents but the court enters an order requiring the parent who does not have primary physical custody of the child to pay child support to the parent or other party who has primary physical custody of the child.
Use Worksheet B when both parents have at least one child overnight for at least 123 nights during the year (1/3 of the year) and each parent assumes financial responsibility for the child’s expenses during the time the child lives with that parent. (This is called “shared custody.”)
In cases involving shared custody, the parents’ combined basic support obligation is increased by 50% (multiplied by 1.5) and is allocated between the parents based on their respective incomes and the amount of time the children live with the other parent. The adjustment based on the amount of time the children live with the other parent is calculated for all of the children regardless of whether a parent has primary, shared, or split custody of a child. After child support obligations are calculated for both parents, the parent with the higher child support obligation is ordered to pay the difference between his or her presumptive child support obligation and the other parent’s presumptive child support obligation.
Use Worksheet C when there are two or more children and each parent has at least one child at least 243 nights during the year (2/3 of the year).