We are Passionate About Helping Our Clients With Child Support.
At the Seaton Law Office, we understand that child support, like child custody, can be one of the most difficult and emotional aspects of a separation or divorce.
Both parents want to make sure their child is provided for, but each parent also wants to make sure the other parent is shouldering their share of the burden.
Your Charleston, South Carolina child support lawyers at the Seaton Law Office have the experience you need to navigate South Carolina’s complex child support laws and the South Carolina Child Support Guidelines, and we will fight for the financial security of our clients and their children.
Understanding Child Support in South Carolina
What is Child Support?
Child support means the financial payments that are made by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent to help with the expenses of caring for their child.
The amount of child support that must be paid each month is determined by the Court (or by agreement between the parties) and is based on the Child Support Guidelines as well as additional factors that can be found in South Carolina’s child support laws.
The Court does not monitor how child support payments are spent by the custodial parent, but they are intended to cover expenses like food, clothing, medical expenses, and childcare.
South Carolina Child Support Guidelines
Child support in South Carolina is calculated using factors found in the South Carolina Child Support Guidelines, which include:
We will file a “Rule to Show Cause” that asks the court to enforce the alimony order and to hold your former spouse in contempt of court if they do not make the payments as ordered by the court.
- Each parent’s income, including self-employment income, business income, and each parent’s potential income,
- Alimony payments or other child support payments,
- The number of children in the home,
- The costs of healthcare insurance for the child, and
- Childcare expenses.
The Guidelines contain additional factors that the family court may consider to deviate from the Child Support Guidelines, including:
- Educational expenses for child or parent,
The distribution of marital property,
- Each parent’s debts,
- Whether there are more than six children in the family,
- Extraordinary medical expenses,
- Extraordinary travel expenses required for visitation,
- Retirement pensions or union fees,
- Other court-ordered monthly payments,
The child’s income,
- Substantial differences in the parents’ incomes,
- Lump sum, reimbursement, or rehabilitative alimony, and
- The parents’ agreement to deviate from the Child Support Guidelines.
Negotiations and Separation Agreements
Although child support must be approved by the family court – the court will consider the child support guidelines, factors that allow the court to deviate from the child support guidelines, and the child’s best interests – it is always better when the parties can agree before their final custody hearing.
Your Charleston, South Carolina child support attorney will negotiate with your former spouse or their attorney to reach an agreement as to the appropriate amount of child support that must be paid. This can be agreed to as part of a separation agreement or it can be ordered at a temporary hearing.
If the parties do not agree, there will most likely be a mandatory mediation before the final divorce hearing where a mediator will attempt to resolve any outstanding issues.
If child support is agreed upon before the parties go to court, the family court will often approve the agreement and incorporate the parties’ agreement into a final divorce decree.
DSS Online Child Support Calculator
The South Carolina Department of Social Services’ website offers an online child support calculator that will give you an estimate of the amount of child support that should be paid.
The online calculator is only an estimate – it should not be relied on in the courtroom and it is only as accurate as the information you enter.
Also, the calculator does not take into consideration the additional factors that the family court can use to deviate from the guidelines or the possibility of an agreement between the parties to deviate from the guidelines.
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Four (4) Steps To Take If You’re Fighting for Child Support in South Carolina
1. Meet with Your Child Support Lawyer Immediately
If you are entitled to child support that you are not receiving, or if you are considering separation or divorce and a child is involved, contact your Charleston, South Carolina child support attorney immediately.
Depending on your circumstances, your child support lawyer can:
- File an action for child support in the family court,
- File an action for divorce and request a temporary hearing to resolve child support and other pressing issues,
- Negotiate with the child’s other parent or their attorney to reach an agreement as to child support and other pressing issues, or
- Schedule a mediation to help resolve child support and other issues before going to court.
3. Document Extraordinary Expenses
You will also need to gather documentation of any extraordinary expenses that could justify deviating from the guidelines, including:
- Educational expenses, whether they are for you or your child,
- Your consumer debts,
- Extraordinary medical expenses for either you or your child,
- Extraordinary travel expenses for child visitation,
- Any retirement pensions or union fees,
- Any court-ordered payments that you or your former spouse are making, and
- Your child’s income, if any.
2. Gather Your Financial Records
You will need to provide detailed financial records to your attorney and to the family court, including documentation of:
- Your income, including self employment or income from any business you own,
- Any alimony or child support payments that you or the other parent are already making,
- The costs of healthcare insurance for your child, and
- Any childcare costs that you are paying.
You and the other parent will need to submit financial declarations that are complete and accurate to the family court, and your attorney will need to review your documentation before entering into negotiations with the other parent.
4. Document all Payments Made by the Other Parent
If the other parent is already making child support or alimony payments, document every payment that they make, including whether the payment is made on time and the amount of the payment, and provide this information to your child support lawyer.
If the other parent has been paying your bills or providing other assistance in lieu of child support payments, document all payments that they have made, including the amount and dates, and provide this information to your child support attorney as well.
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