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North Carolina Child Support Calculation Laws

When parents end their relationship and children are involved, reaching an agreement on each parent's child support obligation can be trying. Both parents have legal responsibilities to financially support their child, and if parents cannot agree then a court will often order one parent to pay child support and contribute to their child's cost of care. Courts base the amount on many factors, so this article will examine North Carolina's child support calculation process.

Child Support Calculation Guidelines

North Carolina's statute directs judges to create a child support calculation schedule that courts must follow to ensure consistent child support awards. Child support calculation in North Carolina is based on the "income shares" model: an attempt to provide the same proportion of parental income for a child's support as the parents would have if they still lived together.

The presumptive amount of the child support obligation for each parent is calculated on the parents' annual combined gross income. Parents must submit Child Support Worksheets with the court stating and verifying their income. The gross income level is adjusted based on several considerations, including:

  • Health care and insurance costs;
  • Potential or imputed income (income the parent would've made if not voluntarily underemployed or unemployed);
  • Existing child support payments for other children; and
  • Extraordinary expenses like private school tuition.

The number of minor children and calculated combined gross income are checked against North Carolina's calculation schedule to determine a presumptive monthly child support obligation for each parent. Even if a parent is not working, the court may order them to pay child support.

Deviating From North Carolina's Child Support Calculation Schedule

North Carolina allows deviation from the established child support calculation schedule. For example, courts can hold that child care tax credits or multiple child support orders constitute sufficient basis for a deviation. Additionally, if courts find applying the calculation schedule wouldn't meet or would exceed the child's reasonable needs or be unjust or inappropriate, they may award an alternate amount. In these cases, courts must make written findings stating how they determined the award amount and why the presumptive amount was inappropriate.

North Carolina Child Support Calculation at a Glance

Reading a law in its original statutory form is always a good idea. However, understanding the law's meaning is often easier in plain English. This chart provides you with an overview of child support calculation in North Carolina.


North Carolina General Statutes (NCGS), Section 50-13.4 (Action for Support of Minor Child)

General Child Support Calculation

Courts will establish a schedule of presumptive guidelines to calculate child support obligations. Courts may order child support in an amount that meets the reasonable needs of the child.

Considerations for Meeting the Child's Reasonable Needs

In calculating an amount that meets the reasonable needs of a child, courts consider:

  • Estates, earnings, conditions, accustomed standard of living of the child and parents;
  • Child care and homemaking contributions of each parent; and
  • Other relevant facts of the case.

Calculations based on this standard will be evaluated to ensure the award is not unjust or inappropriate.

Related Statutes

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

North Carolina Child Support Calculation: Related Resources

Get Legal Advice on Child Support Calculation in North Carolina

Calculating child support in North Carolina can seem confusing and overwhelming, but it's critical to understand the process because it impacts your child's welfare. To learn about your potential child support obligations or get advice on calculating child support, speak to an experienced North Carolina child support attorney near you.

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