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North Carolina has Child Support Guidelines that are typically used to determine the appropriate amount of child support in a case. Under certain circumstances, a request to deviate from the Child Support Guidelines may be requested. The current version of the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines applies to cases where the combined household incomes are less than $300,000.00 per year.
In the average child support case, the calculation is based upon the following:
- The gross monthly income of each parent;
- The monthly cost of work-related child care; and
- The monthly cost of health insurance benefits for the children. Health insurance benefits include vision and dental insurance.
The court may also consider extraordinary expenses which are defined in the Guidelines as including (1) uninsured medical expenses in excess of $100.00 per year; (2) medical expenses for costs that are reasonably necessary for orthodontia, dental treatments, asthma treatments, physical therapy and any uninsured chronic health problems; (3) expense for attending any special or private elementary or secondary school to meet the particular educational needs of a child; or (4) transportation expenses for the child to travel between the parents’ homes.
It is customary that the court will order the parties to share uninsured medical and dental expenses in the same proportions as their respective incomes. If you are anticipating orthodontic expenses, be certain to bring this to your attorney’s attention so you are not fighting over the meaning of “dental expenses” when you are seeking help from the other parent in paying for orthodontic expenses.
When the Guidelines are not applicable or if there is a deviation from the Guidelines, the Judge will determine an appropriate amount of child support based on the individual needs of the family. Factors that are considered are the accustomed standard of living for the family and the reasonable needs of each parent. Thereafter, the Judge will consider the incomes and earning abilities of the parents, and their respective abilities to contribute to the needs of the child, taking into consideration their own needs for support. This process results in an outcome that is not reasonably predictable, which is what lead to the creation of the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines. Prior to the Guidelines, this was the process by which all child support cases were determined.
In most cases, child support is payable until the child reaches 18 years of age and has graduated from high school, whichever is the last to occur.
With regard to private school education, the Guidelines do not require parents to contribute toward the cost of the same unless the child has a special educational need which cannot be met in a public school system.
In addition, the court cannot order a parent to contribute to a child’s college education.
Costs such as college education expenses for the children and private school tuition costs may be dealt with through a private contract, but it is important to note that this requires an agreement by BOTH PARTIES to obligate them to these terms in a contract.
The tax laws provide that the custodial parent is entitled to the dependency exemption of the child in connection with income tax returns unless the custodial parent waives such right. Our state courts have the discretion to require a custodial parent to give up the dependency exemption and to award it to the other parent. This is also relevant to deducting child care expenses. The party claiming the child is the one who claims the related child care expenses related to that child. Be sure to consult with your tax preparer or CPA with regard to these considerations.
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