Child support is paid to the custodial parent by the noncustodial parent for the benefit of the child. Child support is most often calculated under the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines. Four adjustments can impact on the amount of child support owed by a parent, namely: pre-existing child support obligations and responsibility for other children, payments for health insurance premiums, work-related child care costs, and extraordinary expenses for a child's medical bills, education, transportation, etc. Work-related child care costs are deducted at a rate of only 75 percent, thus taking into account the 25 percent federal tax credit for child care. Finally, extraordinary expenses encompass out of the ordinary medical, educational and transportation expenses. The court does have the authority to deviate from the child support guidelines for good cause. Also, the parents can agree upon an amount of child support different from the guideline amount.
The court does not have the authority to order payment for a child's college expense or to order the supporting spouse to maintain life insurance to provide for the children in the event of his or her death. Parents should consider entering into private agreements addressing this and other such concerns.
Child support may be modified upon a showing of a substantial change of circumstances, such as a significant decrease in the income of the parties or change in the reasonable needs of the child. Additionally, child support orders can be reviewed every three years.
Generally, child support terminates in North Carolina when a child reaches the age of 18, unless the child is still in primary or secondary school, in which case support payments shall continue until the child graduates, otherwise ceases to attend school on a regular basis, fails to make satisfactory academic progress toward graduation or reaches age 20, whichever comes first.