How does child support work in North Carolina?

If you are facing a divorce or are no longer in a relationship with your child’s other parent, you likely have questions about the child support process in North Carolina. Either parent can request help from state Child Support Services to establish paternity, create a child support order or change or enforce an existing order.

Read on to learn more about the child support process in North Carolina.

Request CSS services

You can apply for services in person at your local CSS office or complete the agency’s online application. The application fee is $25, but families who receive public assistance can request a waiver. After you submit the paperwork and other required information, the agency will begin working on your case. This may include:

  • Locating the child’s other parent
  • Establishing paternity
  • Creating a court order for child support
  • Informing the child’s other parent of the order
  • Enforcing an existing child support order

Understand child support calculation guidelines

North Carolina strives to ensure that children enjoy a comparable standard of living after parents divorce as they did during the marriage. Child support guidelines exist to support this goal by requiring each parent to provide financial support. This formula accounts for the income of each parent, the established parenting time and child custody order, and the cost of health care, education, childcare during work hours and other regular expenses.

Seek an agreement without CSS

You can avoid filing for CSS services if you can reach an agreement with the child’s other parent about support. Create a written agreement and submit it to the judge for approval, after which it becomes legally binding.

Generally, the custodial parent seeks child support from the noncustodial parent. However, filing a child support order can help you establish a relationship with your children if you do not have custody and are not married to the other parent. The court can modify child support orders when circumstances change. These orders are separate from custody, visitation and parenting time orders.

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