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How is child support determined and can it be modified?

Parents in North Carolina who are going through a divorce need to figure out child support so they cover the needs of each child the same as when the parents were together. Both the parents’ incomes and the child’s expenses figure into the amount that one parent owes the other. Either parent can ask for a support modification if their circumstances change.

The North Carolina Child Support Services outlines what determines support obligations. A major determinant is the amount of money each parent makes, and the sources include:

  • Employment
  • Social Security benefits
  • Retirement
  • Workers’ compensation benefits
  • Capital gains
  • Disability pay
  • Unemployment benefits

When figuring out the child’s basic expenses, the courts take into consideration what the average household spending is on the child, but does not immediately factor in health insurance, daycare or healthcare expenses over the amount of $250. The court adds health insurance and daycare expenses to the basic support and prorates them between each parent. The court decides what each parent needs to pay for additional medical costs.

Some life changes, such as the loss of a job, a promotion or another change in circumstances, call for a modification in child support obligations. According to the Office of Child Support Enforcement, a parent can only request a review of support if there has been a significant change in circumstances; otherwise, a review is typically conducted every three years. After a review of assets, income change and the child’s needs, the agency informs each parent of the change or denial of adjustment, and each party has 30 days to contest the decision. If both parents agree ahead of time of a modification, court involvement is not necessary.

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