CHILD SUPPORT ATTORNEY | SC DIVORCE LAWYER
CHILD SUPPORT: A SHARED RESPONSIBILITY
Child support is money paid by one parent to the other to ensure that their child’s standard of living is not reduced because of a separation or divorce. Usually, a parent making more money will pay the parent making less money. Parents have an equal obligation to financially support their children, with child support typically paid to the primary custodial parent. Child support payments must be enough to cover the reasonable needs of each child, such as his or her education and health expenses. The court also has the power to require parents maintain health insurance for the child and even assume certain additional expenses. An experienced Fort Mill child support attorney can help guide you through this emotion-driven part of a divorce action. Everyone pledges to be a great parent and to do “what is best for the children.” However, things can start to change whenever money is involved. You can always pay more than required, but we need to make sure what is ordered is truly enough.
CHILD SUPPORT FACTORS
South Carolina, like all states, has been mandated by federal law to develop child support guidelines to calculate child support. These guidelines take into account the following factors:
- The number of children
- The gross income of each parent
- Court ordered obligations of either party (child support for previous children or alimony court ordered for previous spouses, or alimony in the current action
- Any alimony received by a parent
- The cost of work related childcare
- The cost of medical insurance for the children in the case
- The number of overnights the child has with each parent.
Based on statistical tables, the amount of child support ordered is supposed to represent a proportional income-sharing model for the support of the children from each parent.
CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES
The court will set child support according to the Department of Social Services’ Child Support Guidelines. The Guidelines are based on the “income shares” paradigm, which attempts to have the parents contribute enough income so as to support the children at the same standard of living as if the family was living together. Payments are calculated based on the combined monthly gross income of the parents. If both parents have a combined gross income that exceeds $240,000, the court decides child support on a case-by-case basis. Child support can be modified only upon a showing of “substantial change in circumstances affecting the needs of the children or the ability of the parents to pay.” Hawkins v. Hawkins, 403 S.C. 228, 742 S.E.2d 677 (2014).
There are some fact patterns that will support a deviation up or down from the guideline calculations, but generally speaking, the guidelines will determine the child support. To make sure the calculations are accurate or that the possibility of deviation is evaluated, you should consult an experienced family law attorney. We would be happy to meet with you and go over these very important calculations. A little time spent now will save you significant frustration later.
WHEN DOES CHILD SUPPORT END
Your parents will tell you “never.” And they will be correct. However, legally mandated child support obligations end when a child is “emancipated,” which is achieved when the child: (1) reaches the age of eighteen (18) (longer if the 18-year-old child is still enrolled in high school); (2) gets married; (3) becomes self-sufficient; or (4) graduates from high school. However, if the child has physical or mental disabilities, the parties have agreed to a longer support term, or there are other “exceptional circumstances,” child support obligations may not terminate. Also, Family Courts can also order payments for college or other post-high school training where indicated and necessary. It is prudent to remember that a divorce is between a husband and a wife, not children. Certainly, they are greatly affected by the breakup of a marriage, but your parental duties and obligations often go beyond any minimal court order. You will almost always pay more than the court ruling. That’s ok. You are taking care of your children like a good parent should. And, most importantly, your relationship with your children will be enhanced as they become adults. Doing the right thing here pays huge dividends for the rest of their lives. And yours.
MODIFICATION OF CHILD SUPPORT
Once an Order for Support is entered, the only way the amount ordered can be changed is to file a Complaint for a Modification and prove that there has been a significant change in circumstances since the order was entered. The standard is the same whether you are requesting an increase or a decrease in the amount of support. Usually, the reason people move to modify is a change in income, or a change in expenses related to the child like medical expenses and day care costs. To see if your circumstances warrant a possible change, speak to an attorney.
For detailed information from the SC Department of Social Services regarding child support in South Carolina and the guidelines for its award click this link.
CHILD SUPPORT LAWYERS OF ROBERT J. REEVES P.C.
In Fort Mill, Tega Cay, and Indian Land, you can consult and get answers and guidance from our experienced and compassionate family law attorneys. Our office is located here in Baxter Village above the Grapevine Wine Bar on Market Street. We also have a Charlotte office as many of our clients work there and may prefer to meet more privately. We make ourselves available even after hours. You can reach Robert J. Reeves at 803-554-4157. We know you need answers. Call us now and let’s discuss your options. You will sleep better once you know what to expect. Try not to worry. We can help you.
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