Dear Carolyn,

I pay child support and I am happy to pay a fair amount of child support for my two children, who reside primarily with their mother. I am an executive who makes bonuses from time to time, but the company does not guarantee these bonuses. The children are in too many extracurricular activities, some of which are expensive. To name a few, the mother has them signed up for etiquette class, lacrosse, golf, soccer and baseball, plus summer camps. The court recently deviated from the child support guidelines, and I did not quite understand what that meant. How should my child support be calculated?


Carolyn Answers,

North Carolina has child support guidelines that apply to the combined gross incomes of mother and father of $30,000 per month ($360,000 per year). A judge should not deviate from these guidelines without first calculating the amount due under the guidelines. A deviation means the court looks at the actual needs of the children versus looking at the number on the chart of suggested child support for the various income levels up to $30,000 per month. The court has to make the deviation and the reasons for the variation very clear, or the Court of Appeals will reverse and remand the child support decision for clarity from the judge.

Bonuses are considered income under the child support guidelines, but if the bonuses are non-recurring or irregular, the court has options. One option would be averaging all bonuses over the past three to five years and then including the average in the income calculation.

Your children are in a number of activities. The guideline worksheets have a line for extraordinary expenses. The word extraordinary is a term of art. The recent case of Kincheloe v. Kincheloe out of Charlotte indicates that expenses for activities such as lacrosse, tennis, golf may be considered as extraordinary expenses on the child support guidelines.

When you get the court’s written opinion, you have 30 days to appeal the decision to the North Carolina Court of Appeals. I would contact a family law specialist to review the order to see if errors were made.


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