If you’re facing divorce and wondering how much child support you might receive, you need answers. You need to know whether you will have enough income to care for yourself and your children. When both parents have 50 50 custody, who pays child support? How much do they pay? Read on to learn how it all works in North Carolina.
YOU Have the Power
If you work out your divorce agreement entirely with your attorney, you don’t have to go into a courtroom to settle your custody or child support agreements. This kind of agreement is called an uncontested or “easy” divorce.
An uncontested divorce can cost less and save you time and energy working through a complex court case with attorneys. Often, in an easy divorce, you can both work with only one attorney who helps you work together to talk through complicated issues.
In issues where you cannot agree, you work with a mediation counselor for a binding arbitration agreement instead of taking each other to court. You can still take advantage of the same worksheets used by courts to determine amounts and division of resources between spouses.
Saving time and money with an uncontested divorce means:
- More resources for your children
- Less time in a contentious battle with your spouse
- Finding a win-win situation
- Less spending on court and attorney fees
- A more agreeable settlement to both parties
- Fewer hurt feelings linger in your future life as co-parents
What If We Go to Court?
Sometimes one spouse refuses to work with the other agreeably through mediation. In this case, that spouse will file to settle your divorce issues, including child support, in court.
If you go to court, the judge will determine the amounts for you. Going to court takes the decision out of your hands and puts it into a judge’s hands. Judges each have their own ways of looking at divorce issues, but they all use NC Child Support Guidelines established by the Conference of Chief District Court Judges to calculate child support.
What Issues Does the Court Look At?
When a judge determines child support amounts, they look at specific factors more than others. The most important factors include:
- Daycare expenses
- Cost of medical insurance
- Living arrangements of the children
- Separation agreements
Using the guidelines, the court assumes that the formula provided by the NC Child Support Guideline worksheets will work in your case.
When The Guidelines Don’t Apply
However, sometimes the guidelines lay out a plan that is unfair to the children or a spouse. In this case, the court may choose to go outside of the guidelines for specific reasons, which may include:
- Reasonable needs of the child cost more than average: For example, a child with severe medical issues who needs more monetary support for healthcare needs.
- Relative ability of each parent to provide support is over or under an average amount: If one parent earns more than $30,000 per month or if a parent earns less than the poverty level for one person
- The amount of child support would be inadequate or excessive
- The application of the guidelines is unjust or inappropriate
Common reasons to deviate from the worksheet exist. Examples of reasons why the court may go outside of a worksheet to make a decision include:
- When a parent pays 100% of child support obligation and 100% of insurance premium.
- If a parent acts in bad faith to minimize their child support obligation
When One Parent Acts in Bad Faith
If one parent’s voluntary unemployment or underemployment results from their bad faith or deliberate suppression of income to avoid or minimize child support obligation, the guidelines change. In this case, the judge may calculate child support based on the parent’s potential rather than actual income. The judge determines potential income based on that parent’s:
- Employment potential and probable earnings level based on:
- recent work history
- occupational qualifications
- prevailing job opportunities and earning levels in the community
- other relevant background factors relating to the parent’s actual earning potential
If the parent has no recent work history or vocational training, the judge decides based on potential income not less than the minimum hourly wage for a 35-hour workweek.
Bad faith avoidance of child support does not include:
- A parent who is physically or mentally incapacitated
- A primary caretaker for a child under 3 years old
- Incarcerated parents
What is Shared Custody?
You can use a worksheet to determine child support amounts, whether or not you take each other to divorce court. Working with your attorney to determine amounts in an uncontested divorce is sometimes the easiest way to determine child support.
- Share custody of all of the children for whom support is being determined
- Or when one parent has primary physical custody of one or more of the children and the parents share custody of another child
Parents share custody of a child when:
- The child lives with each parent for at least 123 nights during the year and
- Each parent assumes financial responsibility for the child’s expenses during the time the child lives with that parent
Share Custody Arrangements Using Worksheet B
Worksheet B uses a formula that adds up what each parent’s child support obligation would be if they each had the child at their home full time. It takes into consideration many factors such as income, monthly expenses, and childcare expenses. Then, it subtracts the lower amount from the higher amount to determine child support payments.
In the worksheet calculations, your combined basic support obligation is increased by 50% and applied to both parents based on:
- their respective incomes
- the amount of time the children live with the other parent
The parent with the higher child support obligation then determines how much to pay by subtracting the other parent’s obligation and paying the difference.
We Can Help
If you need help working out child custody or support agreements for your divorce, we can help. Whether you need a court to determine your amounts or you can work through the situation together in mediation, at Plekan Law, we have your best interest in mind. Working with your spouse to negotiate these issues rather than facing a court can often help your future relationship as co-parents and save you time and money.
At Plekan Law, we care about your best interests now and in the future. Our fees reflect our desire to serve you. We keep costs low for you by never heading to court too hastily. We have the knowledge and experience to get you through this difficult time and help you move forward into a brighter future. Contact us today and find out how we can help you.