Child Support and Family Law

Parents must provide reasonable support for a child.

In North Carolina, there is a presumption that the Child Support Guidelines will used to determine the proper amount of child support, when parents have combined gross monthly income (before deductions) of $25,000 or less.  The factors include the gross monthly income of both parents, the cost of health, dental and vision insurance for a child, the cost of work-related childcare, whether a parent has responsibility for other children, “extraordinary expenses” for a child, and the number of overnights each parent has with a child. The Child Support Guidelines, which are amended every four years, is available at As easy to use child support calculator is found at A parent who has less than one-third of the overnights will owe child support to the other parent based on Worksheet A.  If parents have a shared custody arrangement or split custody arrangement, the child support calculation must be done using a Worksheet B or C.

Child support can be determined in a private agreement or by court order.  If the parties cannot agree on a reasonable amount of child support, then a parent can hire an attorney or file private an action for child support pro se. A  judge will determine the proper child support amount. If a custodial parent has limited financial resources, the New Hanover County Child Support Enforcement Agency (or the Department of Social Services in other counties), can assist a custodial parent to establish, enforce and modify child support orders for free or at a minimal cost.

Child support orders may be modified every three years if there is a change in the amount of child support of at least 15%.  In addition, a child support order may be modified if there has been a substantial change of circumstances and a change in the needs of the child.  The rules for modification based on a substantial change of circumstances are complex. A private support agreement can only be modified by the parties, by agreement.  Child support ends when a child reaches the age of 18 and completes high school (or fails to make adequate progress or drops out), and not later than age 20.  There is no legal duty to assist with college expenses.

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