J. Gregory Hatcher | Family Law Attorney
The state of North Carolina utilizes a system for calculating child support wherein mothers and fathers have their child support obligations calculated by use of presumptive basic child support amounts and worksheets. In short, to avoid overcrowding of our family law courts and to attempt to insure consistent child support awards throughout the state, parties are required to begin with the presumption that their child support will be calculated using these guidelines. The guidelines are found easily online as well as the worksheets used to calculate child support. The amount of the basic child support obligation is derived from the combination of the gross monthly income of both responsible parties. That base amount is manipulated within the specific worksheet depending upon adjustments for work related child care expenses, health insurance expenses and any extraordinary expenses. Extraordinary expenses are not limited but usually include regularly occurring costs for education or health issues for the child or the cost of travel in long distance custody scenarios. Further, worksheets are divided between scenarios involving one parent having the child most of the time, the parties dividing time with the child whereby one of the parents has overnight visits with the child, at least 123 overnights a year and, finally, a scenario wherein more than one child is involved and there are differing visitation schedules amongst the children.
In certain situations the use of the guideline calculations is not appropriate. The law in North Carolina allows a party to request the court a deviation from the presumptive child support guidelines. Obtaining a deviation is not easy and the courts must be convinced that for summaries in the presumptive guidelines either results in child support which is too high, too low, or for some other reason an inappropriate amount given the circumstances.
Although a court may determine on its own that a deviation is appropriate, typically a party instigates the request for a deviation. The deviation from child support from the guideline child support begins with the party giving written notice to the other party at least 15 days in advance of the child support hearing that they plan to seek a deviation from the presumptive child support guidelines. Failure to give this timely notice will result in a deviation not being considered by the court unless the court chooses to make that consideration on its own. After timely notice is provided, the party seeking the deviation must provide evidence showing the amount of presumptive child support under the guidelines in the case and then offer proof of why deviation is merited. Once the proof is offered as to why deviation is merited and an additional or a contrary amount of child support is presented the court then makes its determination.
In several judicial districts in North Carolina form affidavits are provided to the parties and required when making claims for support. Thus, in making a claim for guideline child support, only very minimum information is required as set forth above. However, when seeking a deviation in guideline child support, the courts typically require (and a party is wise to provide) further specific information of the customary and reasonable monthly expenses incurred by that parent for the child or children each month.
Greg Hatcher has extensive experience as a child custody lawyer in Charlotte, NC and the surrounding area. He is a Board Certified Specialist in Family Law and has received the Super Lawyers and “Legal Elite” honors for multiple years.