Parent holding child's hand

Child Support: How It’s Calculated and Enforced

People usually want to know two primary things about child support – how much they will get (or have to pay) and how the child support obligation will get enforced. In other words, what will happen if the child support does not get paid?

You can talk to a North Carolina family law attorney to get answers to your questions about child support: how it’s calculated and enforced, and to advocate for you in your child support case. 

How Child Support Gets Calculated in North Carolina

North Carolina law provides guidelines and worksheets for calculating child support. If the child spends the night at one parent’s house more than 243 days a year, that parent has primary custody, and the parties will calculate the child support obligation using Worksheet A. If the parents exercise joint custody, they will use worksheet B.

Factors That Affect the Amount of Child Support

In addition to the number of overnights the child spends with each parent, the child support guidelines and worksheets use information about these topics:

  • The monthly gross income of both parents. You start with each parent’s gross salary or wages before taxes, retirement account contributions, and other deductions. Then you add any other gross income, like bonuses, dividends, alimony received, and other forms of income.
  • Child support paid for another child pursuant to a pre-existing court or administrative order.
  • Health insurance premiums for the children, but only if the parent pays the premium, not the employer. If the parent and employer share this expense, the worksheet should only include the amount actually paid by the parent.
  • Childcare costs that are work-related. This expense can include the amount paid for day camps during school breaks, if work-related. 
  • Extraordinary expenses can include things like private school, costs related to the child’s disability, and similar matters.

You will want to talk with your lawyer about the factors that will be relevant in your situation.

Enforcement of Child Support

Even parties who have every intention of paying their child support obligation might not do so. If the parent with the obligation to pay child support becomes delinquent on child support, you can work with a North Carolina family law firm to take action and enforce the child support order. Also, in some situations, the state will help with enforcement of the order. 

One of the best ways to keep the paying parent current on their child support obligation is to use income withholding from the beginning. The employer deducts the child support amount from the parent’s paycheck and sends it to the North Carolina Child Support Centralized Collections office. If the paying parent falls behind, the parent who should receive the child support can ask the court for an order to garnish the obligated parent’s wages. 

A person who receives unemployment benefits, Worker’s Compensation benefits, veteran’s disability benefits, or Social Security benefits can have some of their benefits withheld for the payment of child support. A parent who does not stay current on child support could get their tax refunds intercepted and find the delinquent payments reported on their credit history. A North Carolina family law attorney can help you with your child support issue, whether you are the paying or receiving parent. For help with your case reach out to our office today, we gladly offer a free consultation.