North Carolina Child Support Calculations, with Examples

Child support is what parents pay to cover their child's needs, including food, clothing and shelter.

Physical custody determines support payments; the secondary parent usually pays their share to the primary parent, who presumably spends their own share while with the child.

Judges use the three formulas below to calculate guideline child support (a recommended amount they can increase or decrease for unusual circumstances). If parents agree on a different support amount in a settlement, a judge must sign off.

Choose the appropriate worksheet below to estimate your guideline child support.

In North Carolina, child support depends on parenting time. Let the Custody X Change app calculate your time precisely.

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Worksheet A: Sole physical custody

Use Worksheet A if your child lives with one parent at least 243 nights a year.

Step 1: Find the combined monthly adjusted gross income

Begin by entering the monthly gross income for both parents.

If you have pre-existing child support payments or make regular, voluntary payments for other children, subtract the monthly total to get your adjusted monthly gross income. Do not subtract taxes.

Add both parents' results together to get their combined adjusted gross income.

Example: Riley and Jordan have one child. Riley, the primary parent, makes $2,500 a month before taxes, and Jordan makes $3,000. With no other child support payments, their combined adjusted gross income is $5,500.

Step 2: Determine each parent's contribution percentage

Divide your adjusted monthly gross income by the combined adjusted gross income to get your contribution percentage.

Example: Riley divides her adjusted gross monthly income of $2,500 by $5,500. The result (.455) shows she has a 45.5% contribution. Jordan's contribution is 54.5%.

Step 3: Calculate the basic child support obligation

Locate your combined adjusted gross income in the far left column of the Schedule of Basic Support Obligations. (The table starts on page 7). Round up or down if you fall between the income values on the chart.

Look across to where that row intersects the column labeled with the number of children in your case.

The number you land on represents the basic child support obligation you share with the other parent.

Example: With a combined adjusted gross income of $5,500 and only one child, Riley and Jordan share a $907 basic support obligation.

Step 4: Determine the final support amount

Now, multiply the basic support obligation by the secondary parent's percentage contribution (from Step 2).

The secondary parent pays the resulting amount to the primary parent monthly.

Example: Jordan, the secondary parent, multiples the basic support obligation ($907) by his percentage contribution (.545), resulting in $494.32. Jordan pays this amount to Riley each month.

Worksheet B: Joint physical custody

Use Worksheet B when each parent has the child at least 123 nights a year.

Step A: Find the shared custody basic obligation

Complete Steps 1 through 3 from the Worksheet A calculation above.

Then, multiply the basic support obligation from Step 3 by 1.5 to get your shared custody basic obligation.

Example: Riley and Jordan multiply their $907 basic support obligation by 1.5 to get a shared custody basic obligation of $1,360.50.

Step B: Determine each parent's portion of the basic obligation

Now, multiply the shared custody basic obligation by your contribution percentage from Step 2 (above) to calculate your portion. Repeat with the other parent's contribution percentage to calculate their share of the basic obligation.

Example: Riley multiplies $1,360.50 (the shared custody basic obligation) by .455 (her contribution percentage) to get $619.03. Jordan multiplies $1,360.50 by .545 to get $741.47.

Step C: Factor in parenting time

Multiply your share of the obligation by the other parent's percentage of overnight visits in a year. (The Custody X Change app can calculate overnights for you.) The result is your individual basic support obligation, adjusted for parenting time.

To get the other parent's obligation, multiply their result from Step B by your own percentage of annual overnight visits.

Example: Since Jordan has the child 140 nights of the year (38.4%), Riley multiplies $619.03 by .384 to get $237.71, her individual support obligation, adjusted for parenting time.

Jordan repeats the process with his numbers (741.47 x .616) to get a support obligation of $456.75.

Step D: Determine the final support amount

Subtract the smaller support obligation from the larger one. The parent with the larger obligation pays the resulting figure to the other parent monthly.

Example: Jordan has the larger individual support obligation ― $456.75. He subtracts Riley's $237.71 to get $219.04. This is what he must pay Riley monthly.

Worksheet C: Split physical custody

Use Worksheet C when each parent has sole physical custody of at least one child from their relationship.

Step X: Adjust the basic obligation for split custody

Complete Steps 1 through 3 of the Worksheet A calculation above.

Then, divide the number of children you have sole custody of by the total number of children you have with the other parent. Multiply the result by the basic child support obligation from Step 3 (above).

Example: Riley and Jordan have three children. Riley has sole custody of one of the children, meaning she supports .333 or 33.3% of the total children. Jordan supports 66.7%.

Riley multiplies .333 by $1,686 (the basic support obligation for three children) to get $561.44, her adjusted basic support obligation. Jordan ends up with $1,124.56 as his adjusted basic support obligation ($1,686 x .667).

Step Y: Find the support owed for the other children

Next, multiply your result from Step X by the other parent's percentage share of income from Step 2 (above).

Example: Riley has 45.5% of the combined income. Jordan multiplies $1,124.56 by .455 to get $511.67. Riley multiplies $561.44 by .545 (Jordan's share of the combined income) to get $305.98.

Step Z: Determine the final support amount

Finally, subtract Step Y's lesser result from its greater result to get the final support payment. The difference is paid by the parent that had the greater value.

Example: Riley subtracts Jordan's $305.98 from her $511.67 to get $205.69, which she pays to Jordan monthly.

Low-income exceptions

When using Worksheet A, if the secondary parent's monthly gross income falls in the shaded area of the Schedule of Basic Support Obligations, only their income matters. Find the secondary parent's gross income (ignoring the primary parent's income) and number of children in the schedule and pay the figure in the shaded box as a final support figure.

Example: Jordan has a gross monthly income of $1,500. With one child and using the Basic Support Schedule (above), the shaded box shows $273, which he will pay to the primary parent, Riley.

Worksheets B and C are calculated normally, though payments will be much lower.

Additional expenses

Child support covers day-to-day expenses, not large costs, such as medical bills or school tuition.

Your parenting plan should specify how parents will cover extra expenses. If parents have similar incomes, they usually split the costs evenly. Otherwise, each generally contributes an amount proportional to their income.

Modifications

If your family experiences a significant change that affects your child's well-being, such as a job loss or a major salary increase, you can immediately ask the court to modify your child support order.

Without a change in circumstances, you can request child support modification every three years.

Keep track of payments and expenses

Remember that a child support order is legally binding and must be taken seriously. If you don't pay as ordered, you could face wage garnishment, suspension of your driver's license, and even jail time.

Whether you're the primary or secondary parent, the Custody X Change app can help you keep track of payments. Log details of every one into your parenting expense tracker to ensure you're following your court order to the letter.

You can also track other child-related expenses and print an invoice if the other parent needs to reimburse you.

In North Carolina, child support depends on parenting time. Let the Custody X Change app calculate your time precisely.

Calculate My Parenting Time Now

In North Carolina, child support depends on parenting time. Let the Custody X Change app calculate your time precisely.

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In North Carolina, child support depends on parenting time. Let the Custody X Change app calculate your time precisely.

Calculate My Parenting Time Now

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