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Child support issues in North Carolina

An individual or institution that has custody of a minor child may bring appropriate action to seek support for that child. A child's mother and father are typically deemed liable for support unless the circumstances warrant otherwise. Additionally, parents of a minor child who is not emancipated may be deemed liable for support of a grandchild to some degree as well. If both parents of a child are minors who are not emancipated, then both sets of grandparents may be considered responsible for the support of that grandchild.

State guidelines indicate that ordered child support payments are to be made by the first day each month. The amount ordered is expected to meet the needs of a child's healthcare, education, and living expenses within reason and with consideration of the standards of living of those ordered to make those support payments. Support terms may be determined by the court. North Carolina uses a uniform guideline for computing the amount of support, and this guideline is subject to review every four years to ensure that the amounts ordered are appropriate. In some cases, the court might forgo the application of the guidelines if the parents are able to present a case that suggests that a special arrangement might be more applicable to the financial situations of the involved parties.

A support order typically continues until a child reaches the age of 18. However, the obligation to pay support ends if a child emancipates. If a child is still in primary or secondary grades in school upon reaching the age of 18, support obligations continue until that child graduates or permanently leaves school or until the child reaches the age of 20.

After a couple with children finalizes a divorce, a custodial parent may be entitled to child support payments. An attorney might be able to help a client enforce a court-ordered support obligation if necessary.

Source: North Carolina General Assembly, "North Carolina General Statutes", September 19, 2014

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