Child Support in North Carolina

Child Support

Child support is meant to ensure that your children are able to lead healthy and productive lives, both now and in the future. In an extremely direct way, child support is at the heart of what parenting is all about: caring for your children by meeting their needs, no matter which parent they maybe living with at the time.

How Does Child Support Work In North Carolina?

in North Carolina, both parents are responsible for providing child support; however, only the non-custodial parent must make support payments if this parent has less than 123 overnights (a little more than 4 months) per year with the child. In such cases, the custodial parent (the parent having more than 242 overnights with the child) is already assumed to be spending the required amount on the minor child directly. Payments typically continue until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever is last. Under no circumstances will child support continue beyond the minor’s 20th birthday.

In cases of shared physical custody, i.e., where each parent has at least 123 overnights with the child, child support is determined based on a formula that weighs the ratio of the parents’ incomes and the number of overnights that each parent has with the child.

Whether you need to establish or modify child support for minor children, or you need help to continue (or challenge) child support payments for adult children, we can help you.

How to Begin the Child Support Process in North Carolina

There are several ways a parent can receive child support. Parents can make an agreement and ask a judge to approve a Voluntary Support Agreement (VSA), a civil court action brought by the custodial parent, an organization, or the guardian of a dependent child; a criminal abandonment and non-support court case; or a divorce order that includes child support.

Family Court

Many parents obtain child support through a civil court action. Either parent can begin the application process for child support by contacting Child Support Services (CSS). A parent can apply for child support online or in person at a local office.The CSS office can help you locate the noncustodial parent, establish paternity for children born outside of marriage, establish support obligations, collect and distribute support, and enforce support obligations.

Calculation of Support

The court determines child support amounts using the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines. A judge will calculate child support using a somewhat complicated formula. The most significant factors are each parent's income, daycare expenses, the cost of medical insurance, and the living arrangements of the children.

The following table highlights the main provisions of North Carolina's Child Support laws.

Code Section NCGS Chapter 50 et. seq.
Who is Responsible? Both Parents
How Support is Calculated? North Carolina Child Support Guidelines

Guidelines are based upon the monthly income of both parents even if the parents are not working, the court may order them to pay child support. In some cases, both parents may be ordered to pay support for a child not in their care. 

What is Included in a Support Order? Monetary support (food, clothing, & shelter), health insurance, basic education expenses. Also might include child care expenses, extraordinary medical expenses, visitation travel costs, and extracurricular activities.
How Long Must a Parent Pay Child Support? Until the child reaches the age of 18 or 20 if he or she has not graduated high school. Other reasons include death of the child, or emancipation before turning 18.
Local Child Support Offices

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Child Support Services (CSS), 1-800-992-9457, Local Directory

Because North Carolina's child support laws can sometimes get complicated, it may also be a good idea to consult an experienced North Carolina family attorney if you have questions about your specific situation.

See North CarolinaChild Support Guidelines

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