Raising children is less expensive under one roof than two. But if you’re getting divorced, this arrangement is likely no longer an option. You may worry about meeting your children’s basic needs and providing them the lifestyle they had before your divorce. By understanding how child support works in North Carolina, you can improve your odds of doing so.

Understanding the basic formula

North Carolina’s basic support obligations are straightforward. If you and your spouse’s combined monthly income is above the poverty line but less than $30,000, the state provides a worksheet which outlines basic payments. This amount also depends on how many children you have. Yet, other factors may affect this figure, too. Your children may have special care or educational needs that require greater support. Or, your spouse may have a better health plan than you do, and your children would benefit from being on it. In these cases, their court-mandated payment would likely exceed the state’s guidelines.

When your spouse doesn’t pay

Your spouse may have little involvement in your children’s life. Or they may think that child support consumes an unfair amount of their income. Yet, North Carolina requires your spouse to uphold their basic support obligations. If your spouse tries suppressing their income to decrease support, the state will make them pay an amount that reflects their full earning capacity. And if they are arrears, you can petition the state’s Child Support Services (CSS) to withhold part of their paycheck until their payments are up to date. CSS may also motion to revoke any licenses your spouse holds, put claims on property they own or withhold their tax refund as consequences. In extreme cases, your spouse may find themselves facing contempt of court or a jail sentence for their nonpayment.

Calculating child support may seem simple. Yet, fighting to receive an adequate amount – or a regular payment – can feel like an uphill battle. Consulting with a family law attorney can help you work to achieve your children’s needs of stability and security.