Determining Child And Spousal Support In A North Carolina Divorce
Child support in North Carolina is calculated through a well-established method devised by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. This method employs a spreadsheet with pre-determined mathematical equations. You input certain financial figures, and it generates the precise amount the court will recognize as the correct support amount. You can access this form online through the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
The calculation is primarily based on the gross income (pre-tax income) of the parties involved. Additionally, it factors in any specific needs of the child, such as healthcare, childcare, daycare expenses, and child assistance requirements, reflecting costs incurred when someone cares for your children. In exceptional cases, extraordinary expenses like private school tuition can also be included. There is typically rather limited room for disagreeing with the breakdown since it sticks strictly to the numbers and is thus considered the appropriate support amount. There are circumstances in which you can argue for a deviation under specific conditions, such as proving that the calculated amount is unjust, or in some cases, that it is insufficient, however.
The process is more about achieving fairness when it comes to spousal support. Unlike some other states, North Carolina lacks a strict formula for determining spousal support. The determination in North Carolina is more of a fairness calculation.
North Carolina generally dislikes awarding alimony or post-separation support. To do so, you must establish that you are the dependent spouse, meaning you relied on the other spouse for financial support during the marriage and cannot function independently without ongoing support. This is the initial — and quite high — hurdle to overcome. The second step involves assessing the financial income of both parties as they stand now rather than throughout the marriage. It looks at whether the other party has sufficient discretionary income, after expenses, to provide support to the dependent spouse.
If you are actually determined to be a dependent spouse and are not making any effort to earn your own income despite being capable of working, the court may impute an income figure on you, assuming they are earning that amount even if they are not physically receiving it. There is a responsibility on the dependent spouse’s part to seek employment or some source of income. Once the court evaluates the income and expenses of both parties, it then examines the discretionary income of the spouse who will be paying the support. It determines how much of their discretionary income is available to provide support to the other spouse (or ex-spouse in the case of alimony) for a specific period to ensure fairness.
Common Child Support Issues in Divorce and Family Law Cases
When it comes to support matters, the challenge lies in determining the true extent of one’s income. It’s not as straightforward as just looking at a W-2 form; it encompasses income from all sources. For instance, if your parents give you a monthly gift of a couple of hundred dollars, or if you run a small side business on social media, like selling cakes, and don’t report it as taxable income, all these sources count. The complexity often arises from the difficulty in tracking down this income, particularly in cases where people have these sorts of side hustles with little, if any, accompanying documentation.
You may need to delve into bank accounts and financial records, and people oftentimes aren’t fully transparent about their accounts when going through a divorce. The major issue is uncovering the accurate and complete picture of the income, as during separation, there may not have been full disclosure with the partner. It’s about determining the actual income so as to work with honest, fair, and accurate figures based on the actual financial situation. This involves financial evaluation and forensics to uncover the true financial picture, and this is where the most challenging aspects come into play.
For more information on Child Support & Spousal Support In An NC Divorce, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (252) 371-0127 today.