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Child Custody & Child Support


Child Custody and Divorce

Every divorcing parent shares the concern over how their divorce will impact their child/ children. The hardest decisions and scariest questions surround the custody and welfare of their children. Besides the emotional impact of the separation itself on the child, many parents also worry about the decreased time they themselves will have with their kids when the family unit no longer shares a common household.

Custody laws in North Carolina deal with the care and control of children under the age of 18. Courts have wide discretion in determining legal custody and visitation, how rights are assigned and removed, and the timeframes that are associated with custody rulings. Child custody is a separate legal issue from child support and other elements of a divorce, like property settlement and spousal support.

As with the other aspects of divorce, courts encourage divorcing parents to create voluntary agreements regarding the custody and support of their children using tools like mediation and negotiated settlement. Statistics show that agreements reached by parents voluntarily have a greater potential for lasting success than those ordered by the court.

However, if parties are unable to settle issues of custody, the court will apply the law based on its perception of the best interest of the children and the greater good of the family unit in question. Rarely do these types of outcomes feel satisfactory to anyone involved.

Because satisfaction with court ordered outcomes have the statistical probability for being quite low, Barri Payne works with clients to be as creative as possible relative to the custody of their children. Because so many different kinds of things can come into play in these negotiations – parental work hours and schedules, long distance living arrangements, new relationships – Barri strives to help clients achieve custody arrangements which will be in the children’s best interest and which will work for both parents given their work schedules, family traditions, and their past and present level of involvement with the children.

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North Carolina Child Support

For most families in North Carolina (those with combined gross incomes under $40,000 per month; or $480,000 per year) child support is governed by strict statutory guidelines utilizing a fairly simple mathematical approach. Factors include how many children you have, the amount of time the children spend with each parent, gross incomes of each parent, and contributions each parent makes to child-related expenses, particularly health insurance and childcare expenses. There is also a consideration given for other children either parent has an obligation to support either from a past or present relationship. The guidelines and calculations are so specific that, in most cases, child support can be determined in advance with a high degree of certainty. A child support calculator is available on the Department of Health and Human Services website, here.

There are times that it makes sense to pursue a deviation from the guideline calculation or times when the parties themselves desire to vary from the guidelines. Many times, and especially in burdened economies, parents need to be more creative regarding the support of their children than the child support guidelines might allow for. Along with child support, parties also typically address uninsured medical and dental expenses for the children, how they will pay extra-curricular expenses and who will claim the children as dependents. As with every element of divorce, child support issues can be resolved through creative problem-solving (through negotiation or mediation) that works best for your family’s unique circumstances.

Barri Payne is a North Carolina Board Certified Specialist in Family Law and a Certified Family Financial Mediator. She represents clients through all facets of divorce, including child custody and support matters, whether it is an initial determination or a modification of a prior order or agreement. Conveniently located near Duke Hospital and Duke University campus, she is available for consultation regarding divorce, custody, and support issues.

We help you craft creative solutions for lasting outcomes.















Durham Family Law Specialist, Divorce & Family Law Attorney


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Whether you are starting or ending a marriage, enlarging or legitimizing your family, or appealing a family court ruling, you have found the assistance you need. Barri Payne can help you negotiate and commemorate your family law matters in a way that ensures the preservation of your relationships.  Connect with us today.


What Our Clients Say

Avvo Review

“I am an attorney practicing since 1999. I chose Mrs. Payne to handle my separation and divorce proceedings and couldn’t be happier.” … “She was compassionate, empathetic, competent, and dependable. That is what I needed and she was right there. I highly recommend Ms. Payne for divorce proceedings.” CW

Avvo Review

Barri and I entered into a situation that seemed pretty clear cut. Inevitably, challenges arose. But Barri had already prepared and expected all of them. She completely keeps her cool and defuses situations that are emotional and usually pretty charged. Barri is the consummate professional. I highly recommend Barri and I will definitely continue to go back to her for anything that comes up. She’s so well-respected and genuinely cares about her clients’ best interest.


Avvo Review

“Barri was able to help me see the pros and cons of the situation and the possible paths to resolution.” … “She is the consummate professional, very knowledgeable, very responsive and communicative, and at the same time very compassionate and understanding. While my situation ended up in court, she is also very skilled at resolving things via mediation as well. If I could emphasize any further how grateful I am for Barri and how highly I would recommend her, I would rate 10 stars out of 5. Thank you.”


Martindale Peer Review

Outstanding lawyer and expert in all areas of family law.

Martindale Peer Review

Barri is a great attorney and super nice person, she is down to earth and reasonable which is incredibly important in handling Family Law matters.

Avvo Review

Barri Payne was an excellent choice as my lawyer because she was most effective and thorough in getting the job done. Her confidence and knowledge was successful in helping me get through some formidable hurdles. I am very satisfied that Barri Payne was expedient, knowledgeable, compassionate and trustworthy while engaging in helping me solve my legal problem. I will be forever grateful!

August 10, 2017

Google Review

Handled my divorce a decade ago and I’ve been referring people ever since. Brilliant, kind, reliable, trustworthy.

Jeremy Powers

Avvo Review

Barri helped me with a very difficult and lengthy case. I appreciated her ethics when things got sticky. She is extremely knowledgeable and always kept on top of the many details of the case. I can’t speak highly enough of her!


Martindale Peer Review

Barri has very good common sense and is pleasant to work with. She does a good job for her clients.

Avvo Review

Barri, Thank you for helping me through a very trying and difficult period. Your prompt and professional assistance was so very refreshing and very much appreciated. Elizabeth was also very helpful whenever I called or had any questions. Sincerely, KG

Posted by KG

Martindale Peer Review

Barri is an experienced attorney who takes great care with her clients and their cases. She is a thoughtful and zealous advocate.

Avvo Review

Barri and Elizabeth went above and beyond to make me feel at ease and help me through some very tough family circumstances. In the end, all parties involved were happy with the results. They are amazing! I highly recommend them!!!!!


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