When a child’s parents separate, North Carolina requires each parent to financially contribute to his or her upbringing. The state child support system mandates monthly payments until the child turns 18 or until age 20 if he or she is still attending high school.

If you are facing a divorce or have a child and have ended your relationship with the other parent, these are the facts you need about North Carolina child support.

How do I file for child support?

Either parent can start the process by applying online with Child Support Services. You can also fill out an application for support at your local CSS office. The agency will help you locate the other parent, establish paternity, create a court order for support and enforce that order if necessary.

Applications are subject to a $25 fee. However, if you receive public assistance or are applying for child support for a foster child in your home, you may have this fee waived.

How is child support calculated?

The CSS guidelines calculate child support using a standard formula that accounts for factors such as the following:

  • The income of each parent
  • The cost of medical insurance
  • The cost of child care and/or education
  • The child’s current living situation

The state strives for children to have an equal standard of living with both parents. Sometimes, the noncustodial parent pays support to the custodial parent. In other cases, each parent is responsible for monthly support.

You do not necessarily have to apply through CSS to receive child support. If both parents can amicably agree on a support amount that provides for the child’s needs, they can create a legally binding agreement that the court will approve.

Some people are reluctant to apply for child support because they think they do not need the money or have concerns about putting pressure on the other parent. However, children have a right to financial support, and the goal of CSS is to help parents do so effectively.