How Child Custody Terms Affect Child Support Obligations

In North Carolina, child support and child custody are closely linked. After a divorce, both parents have a continued obligation to provide for their children. Although support payments are made to the parent with primary custody, the amount of time a non-custodial parent spends with a child factors into the amount of money paid.

North Carolina Courts follow Child Support Guidelines in calculating child support obligations. This starts with determining the “base support,” which is the amount that both parents are assumed to spend on their children. Among the factors considered in this determination are:

  • The number of children who need support
  • The gross income of both parents
  • The planned custody arrangement

The guidelines call for combining the parents’ gross incomes and adjusting them based on the number of children who must be supported. North Carolina looks not merely at salaries but also at investments, trusts and other non-wage forms of income. Each parent’s percentage of the total adjusted gross income affects their respective support obligation.

When parents have joint custody — which North Carolina defines as each parent having at least 123 overnights with the child in a year — the base support is increased by 50 percent in view of the increased expense of maintaining two separate homes. The guidelines then call for assigning each parent a percentage of the base support that correlates with the number of overnights spent with the child. For example, if a child spends 242 overnights with one parent and 123 overnights with the other, the latter parent will be required to pay a proportional amount of support.

The more parenting time the paying parent spends with the child, the smaller the amount of child support that will be due. If the parenting time is split 50/50, there may be no payments at all.

Judges may consider other information in deciding on support arrangements that are reasonable and appropriate for the children and the parents. For example, a parent’s child support obligations should not be so severe as to put an unsustainable financial burden on that parent or to make it difficult for parents to cover their living expenses. Hiring an experienced family law attorney can help you secure an arrangement that is best suited to your situation.

The Moore Law Office, PLLC, located in Asheville, North Carolina, is a full-service domestic relations firm. Our attorneys are skilled in matters of child custody and child support and will provide you with the personal attention and dedicated service needed to resolve your case. 

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The Moore Law Office, PLLC


The Moore Law Office, PLLC, 1 Oak St, Suite 303, Asheville, NC 28801,
Asheville, North Carolina 28801