North Carolina has legal guidelines used to calculate a parent’s child support payments. These guidelines create a rebuttable presumption of the amount of a child support a parent must pay. A court will only deviate from these guidelines upon a showing that the child’s needs are not being met or a parent’s ability to pay is not reflected in the guidelines.
While both parents are responsible for supporting the child, typically only the non-custodial parent has an obligation to pay child support. How much they pay is based on several different factors, including their income and responsibilities for other children.
How Gross Income Affects Child Support Payments
A non-custodial parent’s gross income is one of the most important figures used to determine a child support payment. Gross income generally includes all income from all sources, with a few exclusions for certain types of government assistance.
The paying parent is given a self-support reserve so that they are able to have enough income to support themselves at a reasonable standard of living. If a parent has a low gross income, they will only have to pay a statutory minimum support order, which is currently only $50 a month.
However, in some cases a parent’s low income may be caused by their own bad faith or voluntary actions. Perhaps they purposely quit their job to avoid paying child support or they were fired for stealing or committing a crime. In these cases, a court has the power to impute income for the purposes of the child support obligation.
How Imputed Income Is Calculated
Imputed income is used to calculate the potential income a parent could earn. This is only done when they are voluntarily unemployed or underemployed.
A court will look at the parent’s employment and earnings history, occupational qualifications, and the prevailing wages in their community to determine imputed income. If the parent has no recent work history, a court will impute income of no less than the applicable minimum wage for a 40-hour workweek.
Income will not be imputed to a parent who is physically or mentally incapacitated. Income also can’t be imputed to the custodial parent of a child who is under three years old and for whom child support is being determined.
Once a court includes imputed income in a child support calculation, it can significantly increase the amount a non-custodial parent must pay each month for child support.
The lawyers at King Law can help you through the difficult process of separation and divorce, and we’re here to help you get a better sense of where you stand. We invite you to come in and talk with one of our attorneys in person during a free consultation. Our number is 888-748-KING (5464).