Determining Your Child Support in South Carolina
One of the most contested issues in any divorce proceeding is child support in South Carolina. Both parents want to make sure their children are provided for, but do not want to have an unfair share of the financial burden. The court’s ultimate goal is to find what’s in the best interest of the child. Child support in South Carolina may be pursued as part of a divorce, legal separation, or as a separate child custody action. The best thing you can do is to have a Divorce Attorney on your side fighting for you interest. We at the Strom Law Firm, LLC have the family court legal knowledge and experience you’re looking for.
Factors Affecting Child Support in South Carolina
Typically, the Family Court determines the couple’s gross income from the financial declarations each party submitted to calculate support. Usually, the parent who is awarded custody of the child will also be awarded child support payments. As a result, the non-custodial parent will likely be ordered to pay. South Carolina Code Ann. § 63-17-470 states the South Carolina Child Support Guidelines that determine the monthly amount. The Family Court considers the following factors:
- educational expenses for the child or children or the spouse, to include those incurred for private, parochial, or trade schools, other secondary schools, or post-secondary education where there is tuition or related costs;
- equitable distribution of property;
- consumer debts;
- families with more than six children;
- un-reimbursed extraordinary medical or dental expenses for the noncustodial or custodial parent;
- mandatory deduction of retirement pensions and union fees;
- support obligations for other dependents living with the noncustodial parent or non-court ordered child support from another relationship;
- child-related un-reimbursed extraordinary medical expenses;
- monthly fixed payments imposed by a court or operation of law;
- the significant available income of the child or children;
- the substantial disparity of income in which the noncustodial parent’s income is significantly less than the custodial parent’s income, thus making it financially impracticable to pay what the guidelines indicate the noncustodial parent should pay;
- alimony; because of their unique nature, lump sum, rehabilitative, reimbursement, or any other alimony that the court may award, may be considered by the court as a possible reason for deviation from these guidelines;
- agreements reached between parties; the court may deviate from the guidelines based on an agreement between the parties if both parties are represented by counsel or if, upon a thorough examination of any party not represented by counsel, the court determines the party fully understands the agreement as to child support. The court still has the discretion and the independent duty to determine if the amount is reasonable and in the best interest of the child or children.
Using the above factors, the Guidelines calculator will produce a proportional share of income due from each parent. It is possible to estimate what the Family Court will order using the South Carolina Child Support Calculator. However, there are some cases where the child support order is different from these guidelines. Deviations are within the discretion of the Court and/or included in an agreement presented to the Court for approval. High Net Worth Divorces often are evaluated outside the Guidelines.
Modification and Termination of Child Support
Either party can seek a modification of an existing child support obligation if the party can show that there has been a significant change of circumstances since the parties were last before the Court. The party seeking the modification has the burden to show that by a preponderance of the evidence, the unforeseen circumstances have occurred. You can force a modification by filing a Petition to Modify. If both spouses are on speaking terms, one lawyer can prepare a Joint Petition to Modify that both parties can sign.
When Does Child Support Stop?
It is important to note that if the child support is calculated for more than one child, it does not automatically change when a child becomes emancipated. Either parent may seek a recalculation at that time. South Carolina Code Ann. § 63-3-530(A)(17) provides that child support is paid until the child turns 18, marries, or becomes self-supporting. A court can order the continuation of support beyond the age of 18, but only for certain “exceptional circumstances.” Generally, child support is paid until the later date of the child turning 18 or graduating from high school.
The Court may require a parent to contribute toward college expenses if:
- The characteristics of the child indicate that he or she will benefit from college;
- The child demonstrates the ability to do well, or at least make satisfactory grades;
- The child cannot otherwise go to school;
- The parent has the financial ability to help pay for such an education;
- The availability of grants and loans; and
- The ability of the child to earn income during the school year or on vacation.
Call a South Carolina Divorce Attorney Today
The Strom Law Firm, LLC Divorce Attorneys have helped countless of individuals in your situation to pursue a favorable resolution. If you are concerned about your potential child support obligations, we will work closely with you throughout the entire divorce process. It is important that you have a Divorce Attorney on your side.