When two parents are divorced, separated, or never married and live apart, there is a high likelihood that one will have to provide child support to the other. This is to ensure that the child is financially supported. Generally speaking, the non-custodial parent is obligated to make payments to the custodial parent. This is done under the assumption that the parent is making financial decisions on behalf of the child.
For most couples, child support is calculated based on a percentage of their combined income and their share of child custody. There are also determinations based on health insurance costs, childcare expenses, and the child’s needs. These are taken into account, as well as the parent’s income and the percentage of time the child spends with the parent. For those couples whose combined income is less than $480,000 per year, this is the general process.
When couples exceed that income threshold, however, the guidelines change. In such cases, courts will make child support decisions on a case-by-case basis. If you and the other parent of your child have a combined income of more than $40,000 per month or over $480.000 per year, your child support determination will not follow standard guidelines. Whenever you are facing a case involving child support, whether initiating it or modifying it, you should have the support of a knowledgeable and experienced attorney.
When your case involves high income, you should have an attorney who is knowledgeable in these types of cases. At Parsons Law, PA, we know the implications for higher-income clients. We can help you reach an outcome that is right for you and your children.
When parents are considered high-income, the courts can use their own discretion to determine the amount a non-custodial parent must pay. In making these determinations, the court seeks to provide an amount that reasonably meets the needs of the child. These include healthcare, education, and general living expenses. In doing so, they consider the child’s current state, earnings, living conditions, and standard of living.
While income is a baseline for the establishment of child support, the process also accounts for the unique circumstances of the family and their standard of living. The court’s goal is to help the child maintain their current lifestyle. However, these considerations make predicting child support awards more difficult for parents. They may wonder how much they will need to pay or how much they may receive.
There are several different monetary sources that are considered when establishing the income of parents. These include:
When employers provide additional income to individuals, this may be considered “in-kind” compensation. These may reduce the employee’s living expenses. However, they are also considered when determining income.
There are certain incomes a person may receive that do not count towards child support. These exceptions include:
Income for self-employed parents, or those with their own business, is determined by a business’s disbursements or in-kind payments. Your income history may also be used to find an average.
As circumstances change for each parent, it may be necessary to revisit the current child support agreement. This could include an increase in the income of one or both parents. Conversely, it may mean a decrease where a couple is no longer considered high-income earners. For a review involving a change in circumstances, the courts will generally consider a 15% or greater difference in income.
A: If a parent wishes to challenge or modify a standing child support order, they must file a petition in court. This generally occurs when their income status or employment changes. If one parent sees a significant increase or decrease in income, or they suddenly find themselves out of work, adjustments to child support may be necessary.
A: The circumstances of any case will change the costs for child custody attorneys. However, the average cost of a child custody attorney ranges from $2500 to $5000. This includes fees and court costs. The hourly attorney rate is usually between $100 and $500. When first speaking with your attorney, be sure to inquire about their fees.
A: Increases and decreases in income are major factors in modifying child support agreements. However, it must be considered a substantial change in circumstances. When income is the determining factor, it must show a change greater than 15%. This does not have to occur all at once. For example, if you earned $100,000 in 2020 but now earn $116,000 in 2023, your support agreement may be modified.
A: There are no minimum or maximum dollar amounts applied to child custody in North Carolina. The amount awarded in any child custody case is considered to be that which is necessary to reasonably cover the child’s associated costs. It must also help the child maintain an established lifestyle. The payments are a calculated percentage that considers both parents’ income and their percentage of custody.
Determining child support can be a complicated process with many factors, particularly when parents are considered high-income earners. Because the standard child support guidelines do not apply for these situations, you may be left with many questions. At Parsons Law, PA, our family law team has the answers. If you are in the beginning stages of a child custody agreement, have an agreement you would like to see modified, or have substantial income changes and want to know how they may impact your agreement, contact our offices. We put you and the interests of your child first.
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