The North Carolina Child Support Guidelines currently in effect provide recommended guidelines for determining the presumptive child support obligation for parties whose combined adjusted gross incomes is $300,000 per year ($25,000 per month) or less. When the parties’ combined incomes exceed $300,000 per year, then the child support guidelines cannot be used and child support must be determined based on the specific facts and circumstances of that particular case.
When the parties’ combined incomes is less than $300,000 per year, circumstances may exist that would justify a deviation from the child support guidelines. Other circumstances that may merit a deviation from the child support guidelines include the following:
- the amount of child support determined by applying the child support guidelines would not meet (or would exceed) the reasonable needs of the child;
- when a child has special needs, such as physical or emotional needs;
- when a supporting parent is paying child support to two or more families under two or more court orders, separation agreements, or voluntary support agreement;
- when a parent is paying 100% of the child support obligation and 100% of the cost of the child’s health insurance;
- when the supporting parent has a low income and adjustment is needed to maintain the minimum self support reserve;
- when the supporting parent has an obligation to pay alimony to any person; or
- if the court finds that a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed in bad faith, and that income should be imputed to that parent.
Either party may request a deviation from the child support guidelines. When a deviation has been requested, the court is required to conduct a hearing to determine the issue of child support. The primary emphasis at such a hearing is typically on consideration of the economic factors that relate to the reasonable needs and expenses of the child and the relative ability of each party to provide support. In this regard, evidence must be presented to the court regarding any relevant factors, including the child’s needs and expenses, the parties’ incomes, expenses, income earning ability, estates, homemaker contributions, and the accustomed standard of living of the parties and the child.
The extensive evidence and testimony that must be presented at a child support hearing in which there is a deviation from the guidelines underscores the importance of having a skilled and knowledgeable family law attorney representing you in your proceedings, and presenting crucial evidence on your behalf.