There are few issues more important to most couples in the divorce process than those involving their children. Issues of child custody are usually first and foremost in the minds of most parents – and of course, that includes child support. What is child support? In a nutshell, it is financial support that one parent pays to another for the ongoing care and support of the couple’s children. It is usually determined using the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines – although there are certain circumstances where other methods of determination might be used.
Knowing that is helpful, but of course, most families want to know – on a practical level, what does this mean? What factors do courts consider in determining a child support obligation? Typically, courts will look at factors like how much time each parent has custody of the children, the income of each parent, and the regular expenses associated with the family’s lifestyle. In some more unique cases, such as where a child has disabilities or special needs, or a family makes above a certain income level, a court will consider additional factors as part of its determination as well.
Typically, after a court has made a child support determination using the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines, it will enter a binding order in the case, setting out the amount and frequency of the payments. Those payments will continue until the child reaches 18 years of age, or 20 years of age if the child is still in high school. The payments usually remain the same throughout the duration of the payment period, unless the court orders a modification of the child support award at the request of the parties.
While knowing how a court might settle a child support issue is helpful, it’s also important to know that as with any issue in a divorce, child support matters don’t always have to be settled by a court. The parties in a divorce case always have the option to settle the issue of child support on their own, by agreement, in a way that works best for their family. After all, you know your children and your family’s needs best, and deciding the child support payments and schedule yourself can provide your family with much-needed freedom and flexibility. You can truly make your agreement unique to your circumstances – and the effort to do so is usually well worth it.
We hope that the articles and resources provided here are helpful to you as you consider the child-related issues that may be involved in your divorce, and how to address those issues in a way that will work best for your family and your future. Of course, these resources are only the beginning – a starting point. To ensure that your divorce, and your child-support related matters, proceed as smoothly and successfully as possible, you’ll want to seek advice and representation from an experienced and well-qualified divorce attorney. At The Law Office of Dustin McCrary, we’re here to help. Call us at any time.