When North Carolina parents divorce, if their children are younger than 18, one parent might end up paying child support to the other. Usually, the noncustodial parent pays the custodial parent. However, when considering a divorce, both parents might wonder what child support covers.

Although it varies based on the particular situation, child support in North Carolina covers basics such as food and shelter as well as education, medical needs and transportation. However, there may still be additional costs, and custodial parents might find themselves paying for extras ranging from prom dresses to various extracurricular activities.

Parents can also use the parenting agreement to make an agreement about additional expenses. These might include yearbook photos, summer camp and music lessons. Parents may want to help their child buy a car at some point, and they might want to include a plan to pay for their child’s college. Finally, parents might want to contribute to the costs of their child’s wedding. It is important they budget realistically for these types of costs.

Child support payments may become a source of conflict because one parent may feel they are not paid enough while the noncustodial parent may feel they pay too much. However, parents are required to pay the amount of child support ordered by a judge, and if they fail to pay, the other parent can pursue other means of collecting the support including garnishing wages. If the parent who pays support loses a job or is unable to make child support payments for any other reason, they can apply for a modification of support based on a material change in circumstances. An attorney could assist in preparing and submitting the motion and will inform the client that if a modification is in fact granted, it will be prospective only and will not affect any past due amounts.