Parents who pay child support frequently have questions about how much they are paying and how the support payments are being spent. This is natural, as it represents a sizable portion of each paycheck. However, because the parent who receives the child support payments is responsible for actually spending that money, there is often a misunderstanding that child support represents a form of additional alimony. So when a parent who receives child support is employed or gets a job, the parent paying support may wonder if the parent who works is entitled to receive child support.
Both Parents are Financially Responsible for Supporting their Child
Child support and alimony are two separate legal issues. Child support exists to support children, not parents. In fact, the child support laws of North Carolina establish that both parents are legally responsible for the financial support of their children. The amount of each parent’s contribution to the children is determined through the implementation of the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines.
The guidelines treat the parents and children as one cohesive family unit, taking into account the following factors:
- The incomes of each parent;
- Existing support obligations and responsibility that the parent may have for other children;
- The number of nights the children spend with each parent;
- Work-related childcare costs;
- Health insurance premiums paid for the children; and
- Any extraordinary expenses the children may have.
Then, the guidelines determine the overall support obligation that the parents have to the children and divide it based upon the relative incomes and overnight visitation periods of the parents.
Part of the misconception about working custodial parents is that they are not ordered by the court to withhold a portion of their paycheck every month. This is because the law assumes that custodial parents are directly paying their fair share of child support while providing care to the children. So is a parent who works entitled to receive child support? The answer is yes, and the fact that a custodial parent works does not relieve the noncustodial parent of their obligation to financially support their children.