Understanding the North Carolina Child Support Process

Child Support Services, a state agency, ensures that North Carolina children have their financial needs met by both parents. Typically, the noncustodial parent makes monthly payments to the custodial parent that continue until the child has turned 18 and graduated from or left high school.

When you have a child with someone and your relationship has ended, either party can apply for child support by following this process.

Complete the online application

Child Support Services provides the application for child support online and at local offices throughout the state. Once you complete the application and pay the required $25 fee, the agency creates a court order for child support, informs the other parent, and enforces the terms of the order.

If you are unsure who the child’s father is or cannot locate the child’s other parent, CSS can help. If you are not sure if you are the father, CSS will order a paternity test before creating a child support order. You can request a fee waiver if you receive state assistance.

Estimate the child support amount

CSS guidelines use a formula to calculate child support so that the child has a roughly equal standard of living when spending time with each parent. The court-ordered amount depends on each parent’s income, where the child lives, how much time he or she stays with each parent, and the cost of services such as schooling, daycare, and health insurance.

Agree outside of court

If you prefer to negotiate directly with the child’s other parent concerning support, you do not need a CSS application. Instead, you can both sign a support agreement that will become legally binding once the court approves it.

Regardless of whether you are the custodial parent, applying for services through CSS helps ensure that your children receive the necessary financial support. If circumstances change, you can apply for a modification of the support order with CSS. Child support does not inform custody or visitation and does not influence parenting time.

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