Generally, child support is calculated using worksheets provided by the state of North Carolina. These worksheets are simply called Worksheet A (for primary custody) and Worksheet B (for shared custody).
The worksheets are intended to forecast the money a spouse would have spent on their child(ren) had they remained married. It does this by calculating the income that would have been spent on the child, then dividing this amount between the spouses based on their income.
The primary custody worksheet is used if the child(ren) spent the night at one spouse’s home at least two-thirds of the time. The shared custody worksheet is used when the custody arrangement is closer to 50/50. The court uses whichever worksheet corresponds to the custody that actually took place, even if the spouses did not agree to it.
Child Support Agreements
Oral agreements with your spouse regarding child support are not enforceable. A signed, notarized contract between you and your spouse is legally enforceable, unless the terms are unreasonable. Generally, a judge is going to find the terms reasonable, unless there is an extraordinary situation that requires them to intervene on the child’s behalf.
Many attorneys prefer court orders, because a court order is always enforceable, but can be modified if there is a substantial change in circumstances. This means if they paying spouse loses their job or doubles their income, the court can change the amount owed.
The court starts from an assumption that using the worksheet is fair. However, it can make exceptions if the worksheet won’t meet the child(ren)’s needs under the circumstances. This is rare, unless the child has a disability that creates substantial, unique expenses.
This post offers a brief summary. For more information about negotiating divorce terms like child support, visit our negotiations page. We also offer an in-depth guide to children in divorce. Attorney David King can be reached at David@kinglawnc.com. If you have questions or complications to discuss, please schedule a consultation.