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North Carolina Child Support Payments

Although child support payments are received by the custodial parent or guardian, they are strictly intended to be used for the caretaking of the child named in the order. States consider the income of both parents and the expenses pertaining to the child when determining amounts, with an emphasis on the best interests of the child. Support orders typically may be modified to reflect changes in income and/or expenses.

If you've already applied for child support services in North Carolina, perhaps as part of the divorce process, you may still have questions about payment options, how payments are disbursed, and the duration of support. This article will address these questions and more.

North Carolina Child Support Payments: The Basics

If you're juggling the responsibilities of parenthood with a divorce, you probably don't have the time or energy to wade through dense legal texts. That's why we've provided the most important details of North Carolina child support payment processes and regulations in the table below, in plain English.


North Carolina General Statutes: Section 50-13.4

Duration of Parental Child Support Obligation

In North Carolina, parents are responsible for the financial support of their children until they reach the age of 18, unless:

  1. The child is emancipated;
  2. If the child is still in secondary school when they reach age 18, support payments shall continue until the child graduates, otherwise ceases to attend school on a regular basis, fails to make satisfactory progress towards graduation, or reaches age 20, whichever comes first (unless the court orders that payments cease at age 18 or prior to high school graduation);
  3. If the child is enrolled in a cooperative innovative high school program, then payments shall terminate when the child completes their 4th year of enrollment or at age 18, whichever occurs later.

What Child Support Covers

Child support payments in North Carolina are intended to cover a child's basic needs, including:

  • Food, clothing, and shelter;
  • Medical care;
  • Transportation; and
  • Education needs.

Note: The court will base the support order on the combined income of both parents and the number of children before the court, which may result in an amount greater than the sum total of the expenses listed above.

Child Support Payment Options

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (Child Support Enforcement) provides a couple of options for paying child support, although most orders will require income withholding:

  • Income Withholding from Paycheck - Most child support cases in the state require this method.
  • Credit Card Payment - Unless you've been ordered to have payments withdrawn from your paycheck, you may choose to make payments via credit card (Visa or Mastercard).

Receiving Child Support Payments

In North Carolina, child support payments are sent by the state's Child Support Enforcement division via paper checks to the appropriate payee (typically the custodial parent).

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.

Research the Law

North Carolina Child Support Payments: Related Resources

Paying or Receiving Child Support? A North Carolina Attorney Can Help

Whether you're paying child support or receiving it, those payments are very important to the well-being of your child. It's important to get it right. If you have questions about child support payments or need legal advice, your best option is to consult with a North Carolina family law attorney specializing in such matters.

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