The Interplay between Child Custody and Child Support

In North Carolina, Child Custody and Child Support are two wholly separate claims that can be raised by parents and each can be decided at different times by the Court or by agreement. However, the laws governing North Carolina Family Law, specifically child support, create an interplay between child custody and child support and can drastically change a child support award based on a child custody award and vice versa.

In most North Carolina Family Law cases, parents will apply the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines to determine a monthly award of child support. While this award can, and often is, made separately from an award for child custody, the Guidelines are based upon the number of overnights each parent has with a child each calendar year. Thus, an award of child support is dependent on your child custody arrangement.

The North Carolina Child Support Guidelines consist of 3 Worksheets, referred to as Worksheet A, B, or C, each of which include their own cost-sharing application for how much, if any, one parent should pay to the other based on the parent’s gross monthly incomes, cost of insurance coverage for the children, work-related child care expenses, and any extraordinary expenses.

Child Support will be calculated on a Worksheet A if one parent has the child less than 123 overnights per year. To put this into perspective, under a “Friday to Sunday every other weekend” custody schedule, the parent with secondary physical custody has the child roughly 52 overnights per year. Worksheet B is considered the “true sharing of expenses” application and is utilized when both parents have at least 123 overnights with the child each year. This situation applies where both parents have roughly equal parenting time, such as the common “week on, week off” custody arrangement. Under these scenarios, the child support award is significantly lower than on a Worksheet A because Court assumes since both parents have roughly equal parenting time, each are spending roughly the same amount of money on behalf of the child. A Worksheet C calculation is the the least common Worksheet and applies where custody of two or more children is split between the parents. For example, Worksheet C would apply if one parent has primary custody of one child and the other parent has primary custody of the other child or children.

When deciding your Child Custody schedule, it is important to consider the interplay with Child Support and the affect your custody schedule can have on your child support award. In order to gain a better understanding of Child Custody and Child Support, and how the two affect one another, call us today at (704) 810-1400 to schedule a consultation.

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