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South Carolina Child Support
Child Support in South Carolina
In South Carolina, both parents have a joint responsibility to provide child support. The court may require income withholding for the guarantee of child support payments.
The state of South Carolina has specific factors that determine child support paid to the custodial parent. In determining child support, the courts look at the income of both the custodial and noncustodial parents, the number of children in the family, and the amount of time the children spend with each parent. The court examines the required cost of childcare if the custodial parent is employed or attending school and any required uninsured medical expenses.
The South Carolina Child Support guidelines require a sworn financial declaration to set the correct amount of child support. These guidelines are presumed to be correct unless one of the following factors requires a deviation from the amount:
The court can order a noncustodial parent to pay child support during a separation, divorce or paternity action. The amount is set according to the parents' total income and is adjusted based on the noncustodial parent's percentage of that income. The court also considers how many children require support.
Once the base amount is determined, the court can increase or decrease support based on medical expenses, educational expenses, childcare costs and whether the child receives his or her own income.
Child support laws are described in the Code of Laws of South Carolina; Chapter 3, Sections 20-3-160, 20-7-40, 20-7-100, 20-7-852, 20-7-1315, and 43-5-580 and South Carolina Case Law.
South Carolina uses the Income Shares Model to determine the amount of child support the noncustodial parent must pay. The Income Shares Model estimates the amount of support that would have been available if the marriage had not failed. This estimated amount is then divided proportionally to the parents according to each parent's income. This is easily done by using the South Carolina child support worksheet and the estimated incomes are typically substantiated by past pay stubs or w-2s.
This routine takes into account both parents' gross income and applies a percentage to it based on the number of minor children they have together. The court takes the combined income of both parents and works out the proportion each contributes. That figure is then divided proportionately based on each parent's ability to pay and which parent has primary custody.
If the noncustodial parent has a higher income than the custodial parent, the noncustodial parent would then be responsible for the greater portion of the child support obligation; conversely, if the noncustodial parent has a lower income than the custodial, the noncustodial parent would then be responsible for the smaller portion of the child support obligation.
The costs for extracurricular activities are not taken into account when determining child support. However, extraordinary medical expenses, childcare and educational support are add-ons. Childcare is a mandatory deduction, and extraordinary medical expenses are a deviation factor.
Child Support Enforcement
In South Carolina, the noncustodial parent must pay child support until the child is 18. Failure to support the child may result in a contempt of court action and a jail sentence. To expedite collection, the court may garnish the noncustodial parent's paycheck and workers compensation benefits, intercept state and federal income tax returns, report negative information to credit bureaus and suspend occupational, professional and driving licenses.
More information about South Carolina Child Support Enforcement can be found at their website.
The South Carolina Child Support Enforcement Division pursues delinquent parents even after the child is 18 because the state has no statute of limitations on collecting back support.
It is difficult to collect a great deal of back child support by way of garnishment because the amount that can be collected is limited. However, the Child Support Enforcement Division garnishes incomes because it usually provides timely payments from the noncustodial to the custodial parent.
Tax Refund Interception
The Child Support Enforcement Division can intercept a state tax refund when the noncustodial parent owes more than $100 in back support, and it can intercept a federal return when arrears are $500.
When back support is more than $500 in arrears and 60 days late, any license the noncustodial parent holds -- including the driver's license and recreational licenses -- may be suspended or revoked. When the noncustodial parent sets up a pay schedule that includes both back and current payments, the licenses are reinstated.
At $1,000 in back child support, South Carolina may lien and liquidate any real property owned by the noncustodial parent. This includes cars, homes, and accounts. The money is paid to the custodial parent.
Generally, the obligation ends when the child reaches 18 years of age or the child graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. A child will also automatically be ineligible for child support if that child is removed from disability status by a court order.
South Carolina Code of Laws section 62-17-470 requires the court to make child support awards based on the state child support guidelines. However, a court can deviate from the guidelines if the factors of a case warrant it. The court can consider such factors as any significant income available to the child, any unreimbursed extraordinary medical costs of the paying parent, consumer debts, educational expenses for children and spouses, and alimony payments.
Private school tuition, for instance, is a deviation factor.
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"A Plain English Guide to Protecting Your Children"
Author: Mary L. Boland, Attorney at Law
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