Compassionate legal assistance in York, Lancaster, and Chester Counties
When two people have a child, they are responsible for caring and supporting the child physically, emotionally, and financially. When parents live together, they both share these responsibilities. However, when parents live under separate roofs, the question of who is financially responsible for the expenses related to raising their child becomes a critically important issue.
Whether you are seeking child support or being asked to pay it, you deserve an attorney who will fight for the best interests of you and your children. As a single father, I understand firsthand what types of challenges you face, and how intimidating the child support system in SC can be. Let me help you ensure your children are protected. Contact Holland Law in Fort Mill or Rock Hill, and reserve your consultation with an experienced child support attorney today.
- What is child support for, exactly?
- How is child support calculated for South Carolina parents?
- Do I have to follow the SCDSS guidelines for child support?
- Which parent is responsible for paying child support?
- How are child support payments made in South Carolina?
Child support is a form of financial assistance paid by one parent to the other, either after a divorce or between two parents who were never married. The goal of child support is to ensure the status quo for your children, so that their lives are not disrupted. Child support can be negotiated between the two parents or ordered by the court.
Child support is determined by the South Carolina Child Support Guidelines. The child support calculator provided by the Department of Social Services (DSS) incorporates the criteria of these guidelines to determine the financial obligation each parent is responsible for contributing to the child's care. While this calculator only provides an estimate, my offices can provide you with a more solid figure to rely upon after receiving accurate financial information from both you and the other parent.
Of course, you and your spouse may be able to come to a mutual agreement as to the amount paid in child support. I can help finalize your agreement. However, any child support agreement is subject to approval by a judge.
Factors that affect your child support figure include:
- Number of children born of you and your spouse
- The actual gross income of each parent
- Number of days each parent has the child per month
- Daycare expenses
- Health insurance premiums for the child/children
The guidelines provide calculated amounts of child support for a combined parental gross income of up to $30,000 per month, or $360,000 per year. If the parents' combined income is greater than that number, courts will determine awards on a case-by-case basis. In the same spirit, child support payments for those with lower incomes will be set at no less than $100 per month.
Not necessarily; parents can choose to deviate from the guidelines so long as they are both in agreement about those deviations, and the agreed-upon amount is in their children's best interest. However, the court will have to inquire about the reasons for the deviation, and make a ruling that it is in the child's best interest to depart from the guidelines.
Deviating from child support guidelines
There may be circumstances in which the standard child support calculation under the guidelines is insufficient for the child, or will create an undue hardship for the paying parent. Some of the reasons a judge may allow changes in child support include:
- Equitable distribution of property
- Consumer debts
- Unreimbursed extraordinary medical/dental expenses for either parent, or extraordinary travel expenses for court‐ordered visitation
- Monthly fixed payments imposed by court or operation of law
- Significant available income of the child(ren)
- Payment of lump sum, rehabilitative and reimbursement alimony
- Mandatory deduction of retirement pensions and union fees
- Emancipation of a child
Both the custodial and noncustodial parent have the right to request a review of the child support order upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances. If a parent wishes to reduce his or her child support payment, he or she must seek to modify the order by showing a substantial change in his or her circumstances. Such changes may include:
- Inability to maintain employment due to disability or illness
- Either party receiving a substantial promotion and salary increase
- Involuntary long-term unemployment
Child support ordered through Child Support Enforcement (CSE), can only be modified by the Department of Social Services (DSS). Child support obligations established as part of a divorce proceeding are called Private Orders and must be modified through the Family Court itself.
Intentionally taking a lower-paying job for reduced child support payments is not acceptable
Underemployment is sometimes a short-term problem after losing a job, which the court may consider in temporarily reducing your support obligation. However, if you have purposely taken a lower-paying job, reduced your hours without cause, or engaged in another intentional act designed to lessen your child support burden, the court will decline your request.
Both parents have a legal obligation to provide monetary support for their child. Typically, the noncustodial parent will be the party ordered to pay support.
It is important to note that child support is a legal obligation. Child support is meant to assist the custodial parent in providing for the basic needs of the child, such as: housing, clothing, education, food etc. Child support does not cover extras like cell phones, extracurricular activities, summer camps, trips, etc. Some say that child support is the legal minimum required to support a child. The payor parent may have a moral obligation to assist the child with the extras involved in raising children.
Once ordered, the noncustodial parent is obligated to pay the support until the child reaches 18 years of age, or 19 years of age if he or she has not yet graduated high school. There may be extenuating circumstances where child support may be extended, such as to pay college expenses or support a disabled child. Both parents should be aware that a child support obligation does not automatically terminate on your child's birthday. The paying parent must petition the court to dismiss the order commanding payment of child support.
If child support is ordered by a South Carolina court, there are three ways that payment arrangements are set up:
- When appropriate, an order may be entered to initiate wage withholding from the paying parent, who sends a form to his or her employer to enact.
- The court may order that noncustodial parent make direct payments to the custodial parent on a periodic basis designated by the court.
- Child support may be paid through the centralized State Disbursement Unit's federally mandated computer system, via ACH, personal check, credit/debit card, or cash.
Failure or refusal to pay court-ordered child support may land you back in court facing contempt of court. If found guilty, punishment can range from being fined or sentenced to time in jail.
There for you and your child when you need us, in Fort Mill & Rock Hill
Making certain that your child is well taken care of is every parent's top priority. Reaching an agreement on a reasonable child support payment is best for everyone involved, whether you are going through a divorce proceeding, or you are simply experiencing conflict with your child's other parent. As an experienced child support attorney, my goal is to help protect your family and your child's future. Call Holland Law to reserve a consultation at my Fort Mill office on Gold Hill Road, or in my Rock Hill office on Oakland Avenue: 803-590-6649, or visit my contact page.