Child Support Basics
Child support is financial support paid by one parent to another in order to cover the reasonable needs of children for their health, education, and maintenance. Both parents share a duty to financially support their children. In North Carolina and South Carolina, the income shares method of calculation combines the parents’ gross income to approximate what the parents might spend on their children if they were living as an intact family unit.
How is Child Support Calculated?
The Child Support Guidelines in both North Carolina and South Carolina determine if and how much child support should be paid. The Child Support Guidelines are loosely based upon how many nights per year a child spends with each parent. If you are an extremely high-income earner above a certain annual gross income, your child support obligation is not strictly dictated by the Child Support Guidelines as your income is above the threshold contemplated by the Child Support Guidelines.
The Child Support Guidelines in North Carolina and South Carolina have three “Worksheets,” which calculate and determine if child support is owed based on the physical custody arrangement for the children.
In North Carolina, “Worksheet A” is used if there is a primary parent with whom the children spend most of their time, “Worksheet B” is used if the parents share custody of the children more equally, and “Worksheet C” is used if different children live primarily with different parents (i.e., Son lives with Mother primarily and Daughter lives with Father primarily).
In South Carolina, “Worksheet A” is used if there is a primary parent with whom the children spend most of their time, “Worksheet C” is used if the parents share custody of the children more equally, and “Worksheet B” is used if different children live primarily with different parents.
You enter the following information into the worksheets to determine if child support is owed:
We have 50/50 custody, does either parent have to pay child support?
If the parents have comparable monthly gross incomes, there may not be a child support obligation required, or it may be so negligible that the parents agree that no child support will be paid. If one parent earns a significantly higher income than the other, then the higher-earning parent will typically have a child support obligation.
My child’s other parent is not paying child support, do I have to let them see the children?
Yes. A parent’s custodial right to see their children is not based on whether the parent is paying regular child support. You may not withhold parenting time with the children from a parent who is not paying child support.
My spouse isn’t letting me see my children, can I stop making child support payments?
No, you cannot stop making child support payments if your spouse will not allow you to see your children. Failure to pay child support could result in you being held in contempt of court, facing legal action for breach of contract, or having your wages garnished, among other unpleasant outcomes.
When does child support end?
When your child turns 18 and graduates from high school or your child becomes an emancipated minor. You can agree to financially support your child beyond age 18 and high school graduation within a Separation Agreement or Consent Order, but you are not typically legally obligated to do so in the absence of an agreement to do so.
Can my child support payment be modified?
Yes, child support orders can be modified if there has been a change in circumstances. For example, if one parent gets a new job with an increased salary, one child develops extraordinary medical needs, or a parent is laid off from their job, all of these situations could constitute a substantial change in financial circumstances that would warrant modification of a child support order.
If you have questions about paying or receiving child support, please reach out to our firm and we would be happy to assist you.