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Understanding North Carolina child support guidelines

North Carolina parents may be interested in an article discussing how the state determines what amount of child support is appropriate. The courts use several factors in determining an appropriate monthly payment, though some special cases may affect the usual guidelines.

When calculating the amount of child support a custodial parent is entitled to, North Carolina judges use specific guidelines that have been established by the court system. Several variables are used in the child support calculation, including the parents' incomes, where the child will live and health care and day care expenses. When no other agreement exists between the parties, courts will often award child support payments retroactively if one parent has been caring for the child prior to the child support action.

In cases where the parents' income is either very high or very low, the court may deviate from the usual guidelines. For low-income parents who are ordered to pay child support, a certain reserve amount is allowed in order for them to maintain a standard of living that meets a minimum threshold. For parents who have a combined monthly income of over $25,000, the court is tasked with setting the monthly payment according to the child's reasonable educational, health care and other needs. In cases where there is a substantial change in the noncustodial parent's circumstances, a child support modification is often necessary.

When entering into negotiations or going before a judge to decide a child support order, the assistance of a family law attorney may be helpful. The attorney may be able to assess a client's income and expenditures in order to determine an appropriate amount of child support. The attorney may then be able to represent the parent during the hearing or in discussions with the other party.

Source: North Carolina Child Support Enforcement, "North Carolina Child Support Guidelines Effective January 1, 2011", August 14, 2014

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