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Factors that determine child support in North Carolina

A mother and a father are both responsible for caring for their child, so when one of the parents has primary custody of a child, the other can generally expect to pay child support. When deciding the amount of support that the non-custodial parent pays, the court takes several factors into consideration.

Some of the factors that are considered include the child's needs and the contributions that each parent makes as a homemaker and for child care. The standard of living that the parents and child have become accustomed to is also a factor when child support is being calculated, along with the value of the parents' estate and their earnings.

The North Carolina child support guidelines use a formula of variables to calculate child support payments. The biggest variables in the formula include each parents' income, the child's living arrangement, and the expense of medical insurance and day care. The parents fill out one of three worksheets to generate an appropriate payment obligation according to the guidelines. Each worksheet is designed for the specific custodial situation of the parents, such as primary, joint or split custody. After the amount is determined, the court may consider deviations from the guidelines in special situations.

Although it is generally thought that one parent pays for child support when the other has primary custody, there are cases in which both parents could be ordered to make support payments. Such a case might occur if child custody is awarded to someone other than a parent, such as another family member. Under some circumstances, for example, grandparents may have the right to seek custody of their grandchild if they believe that both of the parents are unfit to provide care.

Source: Divorce Support, "North Carolina Child Support Factors", September 15, 2014

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