North Carolina has a statutory set of child support guidelines known as the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines
which create a standard in all legal proceedings involving the temporary or permanent child support obligation of a parent.
The court may, in a written finding, deviate from the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines if it finds the reasonable needs of the child and the relative ability of each parent to provide support the guidelines would not meet or would exceed the reasonable needs of the child.
The guidelines provide worksheets to calculate the child support based on the child’s reasonable needs and both parents’ ability to provide support.
The court may order attorney fees related to the child support hearing if it determines the party seeking the custody and/or support does not have the means to pay counsel and has acted in good faith. An attorney’s fees award is entirely in the discretion of the Judge.
A court order for permanent child support may be modified after 3 years or a 15% change in the income of a party.
If there is a pre-existing child support agreement and a subsequent action for child support is brought against the parents the court should use the amount of support provided in the separation agreement as it is presumed to be just and reasonable. However, the amount of child support agreed upon in a separation agreement can be challenged in court by either party and the court may in its discretion decide to increase or decrease the amount of the child support obligation due a party.