Dear Carolyn,

My child support that I pay was determined by some method called “off the guidelines” a few years back. I own my own small business, but COVID-19 has reduced my profits. I need a lower child support number. From surfing the internet, I find Child Support Worksheet B, which seems to fit my situation since I have 50 percent of the time with my child. What does “off the guidelines” mean? Can I get a reduction in my child support?


Carolyn Answers,

All states are required to have child support guidelines, and North Carolina has child support guidelines that are modified every three years for inflation and perhaps other economic factors. The current version was effective March 1, 2020. These guidelines apply to parents who have a combined gross monthly income of $30,000 or less, which is $360,000 per year. So, if Mom makes $10,000 per month and Dad makes $20,000 per month, the guidelines apply. However, if Dad makes $20,001 per month, then the case is technically “off the guidelines.”

When a child support case is “off the guidelines,” the court must look at the actual needs of the children in calculating child support. Guildford County courts have an Affidavit of Financial Standing that is used by the judge in an “off the guidelines” case.

The good news is that child support can generally be reviewed every three years for modification if you file your motion for modification. A difference of 15 percent or more between the old order and your new fact situation is an automatic substantial change of circumstances for purposes of calculating child support.



Send your questions on family law and divorce matters to “Ask Carolyn…” at, or P.O. Box 9023, Greensboro, NC  27427.  Please do not put identifying information in your questions.  Note that the answers in “Ask Carolyn” are intended to provide general legal information, and the answers are not specific legal advice for your situation.  The column also uses hypothetical questions.  A subtle fact in your unique case may determine the legal advice you need in your individual case.  Also, please note that you are not creating an attorney-client relationship with Carolyn J. Woodruff by writing or having your question answered by “Ask Carolyn…”