Understanding Laws Related to Child Support In North Carolina

According to North Carolina law, both parents are unequivocally responsible for supporting their minor children in various ways—emotionally, physically, and financially. In general, parents strive to meet these needs to the best of their abilities and are motivated to do so. Indeed, divorce can be challenging, especially when children are involved and require ongoing support. While parents generally prioritize their children’s well-being, the divorce process can raise various questions, such as determining which parent may be responsible for child support and the amount owed.

Misunderstandings often surface regarding support responsibilities. Sometimes, a parent might assume that transferring the family home in a property settlement relieves them of support obligations. Other times, questions arise about the definition of support—does it entail monthly payments or include providing medical insurance? 

Here, let us take a brief look at a few aspects of child support in North Carolina and how a Monroe NC Divorce Attorney can help in this case.

  • Paying Support

In North Carolina, support payments are required only from the parent who does not have primary custody. According to the law, if a parent has fewer than 123 overnights per year with the child(ren), they are classified as the non-custodial parent responsible for making these payments. Child support is typically established during divorce proceedings, either by court order or through mutual agreement between the parties. Alternatively, if needed, a request for child support can be pursued as a separate civil action, ensuring that the party seeking support meets the necessary legal criteria. Such actions must be filed in the county where either the parent or child resides, or where the child is currently located.

  • Time Limitations in Respect of Child Support

Payments usually continue until the child reaches 18 years of age or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. Child support will not extend beyond the minor’s 20th birthday, except in cases where the child has a condition that prevents them from becoming self-supporting by that age.

  • Ex-spouse’s Refusal to Pay

Unfortunately, there are instances where parents neglect their responsibilities. Despite being mandated to provide child support, some struggle due to financial mismanagement, difficult circumstances, or, sadly, as a form of retaliation against the other parent. Thankfully, there are avenues for recourse in such situations. North Carolina’s General Statutes Section 14-322 serves to safeguard children who are neglected or abandoned. According to this statute, parents who wilfully fail to provide support for their child may face fines, imprisonment, or both, alongside the obligation to pay any overdue support.

North Carolina law emphasizes both parents’ responsibility to support their children after divorce, addressing challenges and misunderstandings that can arise regarding child support obligations. Legal provisions ensure enforcement and protection for children in cases of non-payment, maintaining their well-being as a priority.