Child Support: can I fight the Calculator?

I have used the Worksheet B Child Support calculator from the State website to estimate what I may have to pay my ex in child support when he starts to have joint custody rights. If my ex remains unemployed, the calculator says I will owe him $1520/month in child support. If I change the numbers assuming he gets a minimum wage job at 40 hours per week, I still owe him $965 per month.

Now I know he could get a better paying job. He is a smart educated college graduate. However, he’s been a stay at home parent for seven years. Now, he’s choosing to remain unemployed while he lives expense free with his girlfriend.

But my bigger issue is that these numbers are simply unaffordable. Even with a $0/month child support payment, after my fixed monthly expenses (mortgage, utilities, childcare), I am only left with $1400/month for groceries, fuel, vehicle upkeep, household items, house repairs, clothing, let alone savings or retirement. Obviously I could not even afford a $1520/month child support payment. And even at $965, that only leaves me $435/month for all of those expenses I just mentioned. If this calculator is accurate it would leave me destitute.

Now there is a section labeled “Extraordinary Expense” Included in my fixed monthly expenses is a $670 loan payment for the HELOC I am going to have to take out to buy my ex out of his share of the equity in our home. So I reran the calculator again with him making minimum wage and included all my other expenses and added the $670 into the extraordinary Expense line. Now my monthly child support payment is $872. Still only leaving me $528/month for groceries (three children), fuel, vehicle upkeep, clothing, household supplies, house repairs, etc.

I don’t think I’m using the calculator incorrectly: it says to use gross monthly income so I did. I included my work related childcare costs per month, healthcare premiums for the children which I am paying. He is paying nothing and I indicated that.

Can I fight this in court? I mean this is unreasonable and immoral. I can’t afford a lawyer (obviously), but if I present this with documentation to a judge, would they be reasonable? Also, even though he hasn’t worked in seven years, do you think a judge would see that especially in this labor market he should be able to get more than a minimum wage job?

If the purpose of the NC child support system is to create equity between the parents’ homes in order to benefit the children, this would do the exact opposite for my children.

The Court can deviate from the Child Support Guidelines and the Worksheet obligation amount but only in certain circumstances and with sufficient evidence presented.

The Guidelines say deviation can occur " if, after hearing evidence and making findings regarding the reasonable needs of the child for support and the relative ability of each parent to provide support, [the Court] finds by the greater weight of the evidence that application of the guidelines would not meet, or would exceed, the reasonable needs of the child considering the relative ability of each parent to provide support, or would otherwise be unjust or inappropriate."

You and the other parent can also agree on a different amount of child support than what the worksheet says. The agreement can be entered in a separation agreement or a consent order.

The payment for your HELOC does not count as an extraordinary expense for the child support worksheet. Extraordinary expenses for purposes of being entered in the child support worksheet are (1) expenses associated with special or private education costs that are necessary to meet a child’s specific needs, (2) expenses to transport the child between each parents’ residence, or (3) other child-related expenses that are reasonable, necessary, and in the child’s best interest.

Anna Ayscue

Attorney with Rosen Law Firm Cary • Chapel Hill • Durham • Raleigh • Wake Forest

Rosen Online | Unlimited confidential access to a North Carolina attorney for $199/mo - click here

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