How Does Child Support Work in North Carolina?

Understanding Child Support in North Carolina

In North Carolina, child support is a legal obligation mandated by the courts to ensure that non-custodial parents contribute financially to the upbringing of their children. The state uses a specific formula to determine the amount of support that the non-custodial parent must pay, commonly known as the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines.

The North Carolina Child Support Guidelines

The guidelines take into account the income of both parents, the number of children, and other necessary expenses related to raising the children like health insurance and childcare costs. There are three models used to calculate child support: the Worksheet A (primary custody), Worksheet B (joint or shared custody), and Worksheet C (split custody).

For example, if a non-custodial parent earns $3,000 per month and the custodial parent earns $2,000 per month, with one child in need of support, and considering other aspects like healthcare costs or extraordinary expenses, the guideline will provide a base amount that the non-custodial parent must contribute monthly.

Enforcement and Modification of Child Support

Once established, child support orders are legally enforceable. If a non-custodial parent fails to meet their obligation, they may face enforcement actions such as wage garnishment or contempt of court charges. Conversely, if there are significant changes in circumstances, either parent can request a review of the child support order for possible modification.

Historical Context and Evolution

Historically, child support laws evolved from common law principles where fathers were responsible for supporting their legitimate offspring. Over time, these laws became more gender-neutral and focused on the interests of the child. In North Carolina, changes in family law and policy continue to influence child support proceedings to adapt to modern family structures and financial complexities.


Child support in North Carolina is designed with the best interests of the child at heart. It is a system that balances parental responsibilities with equitable financial contributions. Through adherence to guidelines and legal enforcement mechanisms, North Carolina aims to ensure that children receive adequate support from both parents.