Are you a parent who is going through a separation, divorce or child custody dispute in Union County? As part of your family law case, you will likely need to address child support. Navigating a child support case can be complicated. If you are negotiating a child support agreement, it is crucial that your rights and interests are protected. At Plyler, Long & Corigliano, LLP, we are committed to protecting the rights and interests of parents. In this blog post, our Monroe child support attorneys highlight five key issues that you should address as part of a child support agreement in North Carolina.
1. The Baseline Amount
The child support agreement must first and foremost address the baseline amount of child support to be paid. In North Carolina, the child support guidelines are designed to assist parents in determining this amount. The guidelines are based on an income shares model, which considers both parents’ gross income and the number of children being supported. The income shares model assumes that the child should receive the same proportion of parental income that they would have received if the parents lived together.
Note: It is possible to deviate from the child support guidelines in North Carolina—but the parent seeking a child support deviation must present good cause.
2. The Form of Payment
A child support settlement in North Carolina should also specify the form of payment. This can be direct payment from one parent to another, or payments made through the North Carolina Child Support Centralized Collections (NCCSCC). Direct payments may seem simpler, but using the NCCSCC has the advantage of providing a record of payments, which can be essential in the event of disputes. Payment can be made through various means such as checks, electronic transfers, or wage garnishment, depending on the situation and needs/desires of the parents.
3. Add-On Expenses
The agreement should cover add-on expenses, which are costs above and beyond the basic child support. These often include out-of-pocket medical expenses, education-related expenses, and extracurricular activity costs. If the child has unique health or educational needs, these should be carefully considered. For example, a child with a learning disability might require specialized tutoring, or a child with a medical condition might have ongoing medical costs. If you have any specific question or concerns about add-on expenses and child support in North Carolina, our Monroe family law attorneys are more than ready to help.
4. Tax Issues (Claim of Child as Dependent)
Another crucial aspect to address is the tax implications related to the child support agreement. A key thing to remember is that child support payments in North Carolina are neither deductible by the payer nor taxable to the recipient. That being said, the divorce/separation can still have tax implications and it is important to address these issues while dealing with child support. Most notably, the parents must determine who will claim the child as a dependent on their tax return. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) generally allows the custodial parent (the one the child lived with for the majority of the year) to claim the child as a dependent. However, parents can decide to transfer this tax benefit to the noncustodial parent through the use of IRS Form 8332. In some cases, it can produce collective tax savings to allow a higher income parent to claim a child.
5. Enforcement Mechanisms
Delinquent child support is a huge issue. According to a recent report from CBS News, there is nearly $10 billion in collective unpaid child support nationwide. Sadly, nearly one-third of custodial parents who are owed child support do not receive anything at all. The child support agreement should detail the enforcement mechanisms if a parent fails to fulfill their payment obligations. In North Carolina, the Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program can assist with locating noncustodial parents, establishing paternity, obtaining child support orders, and enforcing child support payments. The agreement should clearly stipulate the consequences of non-payment.
Contact Our Monroe, NC Family Law Attorney Today
At Plyler, Long & Corigliano, LLP, our Monroe family lawyers have the professional skills and experience to help you navigate the full range of child support issues. If you have any questions about child support agreements, we are more than ready to help. Contact us today to arrange your fully confidential, no obligation initial consultation. With an office in Monroe, we handle child support matters throughout Union County, including in Indian Trail, Waxhaw, and Weddington.