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Raleigh Divorce Blog

What Does Child Support Cover?

For parents, of the most challenging aspects of going through a breakup or separation is determining who should have custody of the children. In many cases, one parent will have primary physical custody of the children. Nevertheless, North Carolina law stipulates that both parents will remain financially responsible for their children until they reach the age of 18.

The state assumes that the custodial parent will be making their financial contributions by virtue of the fact that the children are living with them and they are covering the children’s everyday expenses. On the other hand, the non-custodial parent is usually ordered to pay child support to the custodial parent to ensure that they are also financially contributing to the children’s needs and that the children have all the resources they need.

Many newly separated parents have questions about how the non-custodial parent’s child support payments should be used. Understanding more about child support can help clarify what the financial expectations are in this new stage of your family’s journey.

How Much Child Support Will Be Required?

Because every family’s circumstance is different, the courts must thoroughly assess each unique case before determining how much child support the non-custodial parent must pay. The court will use the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines to help make their determination. The factors the court will consider include:

  • The income of both parents
  • Custody arrangements that have been decided
  • Amount of parenting time each parent will have
  • Healthcare costs
  • Childcare costs
  • Costs of any special needs the children may have

When determining the amount that should be paid, the court will also factor in any payments that either parent is already making, such as for medical insurance or childcare.

The amount the non-custodial parent is ordered to pay will depend on the assessment of these factors at the time of the separation. However, it may also be subject to change in the following years. This is especially true if any of the above factors change substantially.

What Is Child Support Used for in North Carolina?

In general, child support payments should be used to provide for the essential and reasonable living expenses that help maintain a child’s standard of living at the same level they would have had if both parents had continued living together.

Expenses for which child support payments can be used may include:

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Housing
  • Medical expenses, including health insurance
  • Transportation
  • Necessary and reasonable education expenses
  • Work-related childcare expenses

What Other Expenses Does a Non-Custodial Parent Have to Pay in Addition to Child Support?

Generally, a parent will be required to pay for any expenses related to the children anytime they are with them. These expenses will include any travel costs incurred when the parent visits their children.

Additionally, your support agreement may stipulate that you must pay or share expenses related to your children. These may include:

  • Extracurricular activities
  • Travel expenses
  • Summer camps
  • Educational expenses
  • Uninsured medical expenses

What Happens if a Former Spouse is Misusing Child Support?

When a parent pays child support to their children’s other parent in North Carolina, they do not generally have a say in how that money should be spent. However, sometimes parents have reason to believe that their former spouse is causing direct harm by misusing the child support. In some cases, this can mean extravagant spending that leads to child neglect. In other cases, there may be a suspicion that the ex-spouse is spending the money on alcohol or drugs.

If you are paying child support to your ex and believe they are misusing those funds, you may have grounds to seek a modification to the child custody arrangement. If you change the custody agreement successfully, the court will likely modify your child support agreement together with this change. An experienced family law attorney can help clarify your rights in such a situation.

Contact Marshall & Taylor PLLC Today for Assistance with Your Child Support Agreement

If you have questions about your legal rights or obligations under your current child support agreement, contact the experienced Raleigh child support lawyers of Marshall & Taylor PLLC. Our attorneys proudly serve families in Raleigh and the surrounding Wake Forest County area.

We commit to serving our clients with openness, honesty, and compassion, and we work to resolve their legal issues as effectively and swiftly as possible. We will work aggressively to defend you and your rights. Contact us for a confidential consultation today by calling (919) 833-1040 or filling out our online form

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