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In this article, you will learn about:

  • The father’s role in child support payments.
  • What factors are considered in spousal support.
  • How the court approaches the division of assets in North Carolina.

Is The Father Always The Parent Who’s Required To Pay Child Support?

The father is not always the parent required to pay child support. As in most states, North Carolina does not promote a maternal preference in child custody. Consider a situation where a couple separates because the mother has an active drug or alcohol problem. If this comes to light in court, the court may heavily restrict mother’s visitation to a few supervised hours per week. This arrangement could easily go the other way if the father is the parent with the problem. Note that the court is not punishing the parent but rather protecting the child for obvious safety concerns. Because the court knows that generous visitation with both parents is best for the child, it will most likely order the troubled parent to participate in some form of treatment coupled with some time period of supervision over sobriety (urine tests, etc.). After compliance to treatment and supervision, the visitation schedule may be modified.

“North Carolina’s child support guidelines are based on the “income shares” model, which was developed under the Child Support Guidelines Project funded by the U.S. Office of Child Support Enforcement and administered by the National Center for State Courts. The income shares model is based on the concept that child support is a shared parental obligation and that a child should receive the same proportion of parental income he or she would have received if the child’s parents lived together. The schedule of basic child support obligations is based primarily on an analysis by the Center for Policy Research of economic research regarding family expenditures for children. The child support schedule that is a part of the guidelines is based on economic data which represent adjusted estimates of average total household spending for children between birth and age 18, excluding childcare, health insurance, and health care costs in excess of $250 per year. Expenses incurred in the exercise of visitation are not factored into the schedule.” See North Carolina Child Support Guidelines, AOC-A-162, Rev. 1/19, Page 2-6 of 21 © 2019 Administrative Office of the Courts.

This means, in general, child support will be determined from both parents’ gross incomes and in relation to which parent retains primary physical custody of the child. Primary physical custody is determined to be the parent who has custody for 243 days or longer during the year regardless of legal custodial status. Routinely, the primary physical custodian will receive child support payments from the non-primary parent based on the state’s formula. There are important exceptions to these basic rules when parents are designated either low or high income under the state rules. Id., p. 2

Does North Carolina Recognize Spousal Support Or Spousal Maintenance In Divorce Cases?

In North Carolina, this is very likely up to the judge’s discretion. There are a lot of factors that go into spousal support and maintenance in divorce cases due to the fact that there is not a set formula. Given that there is not a state-driven statute that dictates how these matters are handled, it is up to the judge to make the decision. The judge must determine how long the partners have been married, who has contributed the most to the marriage financially, and each spouse’s individual needs in a short to long-term situation. The court will then come up with a set calculation based on these factors and implement that payment to the party on which the court decided.

The judge will also take into consideration the age of each partner, and whether or not each person is within a healthy working age. This could result in one spouse being assigned permanent alimony, which would give that spouse monetary support until that person moves on to being supported in another relationship. In this case, the paying party can apply to the court to have the alimony dropped. If the spouse assigned alimony doesn’t move into another relationship, then the paying party is responsible to support them unless the judge decides otherwise. If either party passes away, obviously the alimony is dropped, but as long as both parties are alive and one spouse needs alimony, it will continue to be in place as ordered by the court.

How Does The Court Handle A Division Of Assets In A Divorce Case In North Carolina?

Like most jurisdictions, the division of assets is equitable. Equitable does not always mean equal, but the courts in North Carolina favor the equal division of assets as much as possible. However, depending on the circumstances, the equitable division of assets may not always be appropriate. The court will evaluate how much marital property it can attribute to both spouses based on several factors. These factors include how long the parties have been together and what each party owned prior to the marriage. Generally, in North Carolina, if an individual obtained property before the marriage, that asset remains with the person who originally acquired it. .

Consider a scenario where a partner had $100,000 before marriage, and during the marriage, that same person turned that $100,000 into a million dollars. Part of the reason that was possible is likely because that person had a spouse who was contributing in some way to the household, and that money theoretically wouldn’t have been made without that support. It is important to consider how much the increase in the value of that particular asset can be attributed to the other spouse.

Situations like these are complicated issues to consider, and the court must carefully analyze factors such as these to properly determine the division of assets in a divorce case. It is important to note that there are additional issues for the court to consider, such as children involved and large assets. It is the aim and responsibility of the court to carefully examine these components to be equitable and above all, fair to both parties involved.

For more information on Family Law in North Carolina, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (828) 884-5400 today.

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