Like the majority of states, South Carolina employs the “income shares model” to calculate child support during divorce proceedings. The purpose of this model is to try to provide minor children with the amount of support they would have received if their parents had stayed married. To understand the intricacies of how child support is calculated, there are a few key questions you should understand the answers to first.
How Is Child Support Calculated in South Carolina?
To derive the amount of child support, the South Carolina family court will look to the combined incomes of both parents and derive each parent’s support obligation using a table created by the state. The table reflects average child-rearing expenses and current cost of living expenses in South Carolina. South Carolina law provides that there is a rebuttable presumption that the guidelines set forth by this table reflect the correct amount to be awarded in child support.
Ultimately, if you are a non-custodial parent, you will be responsible for paying an amount reflecting the ratio of your individual income to your total household combined income. South Carolina has provided a calculator in order for residents to do a preliminary calculation as to what their obligation may ultimately be.
How Does Child Support Change Depending on How Many Children Are Supported?
Your child support obligation does depend on how many children you and your spouse have and how many children are living at home. Specifically, your obligation will increase for every additional child up to six children. A family law judge will also give you a credit for each adopted or natural child living in your home.
How Long Does My Support Obligation Last?
A South Carolina Child Support Order typically is effective until the minor child turns eighteen or graduates from high school whichever is later. An exception is where a child gets married or otherwise becomes emancipated prior to either of these events occurring. A parent may also seek to extend a child support obligation if the child is disabled and still dependent on their parents for support.
Does the Number of Overnights I Enjoy Affect My Support Obligation?
Yes. South Carolina family courts will apply a different formula based on how many overnights your child spends with you during a calendar year. There are two categories a parent may fall under. First, if your child spends 110 nights or more (30 percent of the year) with both you and your spouse, South Carolina courts will consider this “shared custody,” and reduce your amount of child support. If, however, your child spends less than 110 nights with you, courts will consider your spouse to have “sole custody” and your child support will be larger. This presents one major reason why paying attention to your proposed parenting plan is so crucial in a divorce case.
What Sources of Income Are Considered In Determining My Income?
To determine your child support obligation, South Carolina child support guidelines direct courts to consider parties’ gross incomes. In general, “gross income” includes any income derived from all sources. In addition to your wages, bonuses, and commissions, this includes income derived from some lesser-thought-of sources:
- Severance pay
- Free housing/reimbursed meals/company car
- Net rental income
- Workers’ compensation benefits
- Unemployment insurance benefits
- Income from assets
- Veteran’s benefits
- Alimony a parent will receive from this current case.
However, there are several income sources that are excluded from a parent’s gross income:
- Child support or alimony received from a prior relationship
- Supplemental Social Security Income (SSI)
- Food Stamps
- General Assistance
If I Am Underemployed, Will a Court Impute Income to Me?
South Carolina law provides that if the court finds one parent is underemployed, the court may “impute” income to that parent based on their work and earnings potential. This happens frequently when one spouse is only working part-time or quit a higher paying job to receive a lower income. When deciding whether it is appropriate to impute income, courts will often look at a spouse’s prior work history, age, educational background, and other relevant skills, as well as what people with comparable statistics are able to earn. If a court decides imputing income is appropriate, it will calculate child support as if that spouse is earning the income the court believes he or she is capable of earning.
What About Health Insurance Premiums?
A South Carolina family court will give credit to a parent who pays for the health insurance premiums for a minor child. You should be ready to submit proof of enrollment for the minor child, as well as proof of payment to receive this adjustment.
Is it Possible a Court Will Deviate From Guidelines?
Yes! There are several factors that may warrant deviation from the child support guidelines. These may include payment for extraordinary medical expenses necessary to preserve the life of your child or payment of additional expenses your child may need if he or she has a special medical or developmental need. A court may also consider deviating where there is significant income available to the children or if one spouse is going to incur substantial travel costs for court-ordered visitation.
Will Work-Related Child Care Costs Impact My Support Obligation?
A South Carolina family law judge will consider the amount you pay for work-related child care in determining your child support obligation.
What Happens If I Do Not Pay My Child Support On Time?
A court may, in its discretion, order a parent to pay via a wage withholding order or through the family courts. If you are ordered to pay your support obligation through the courts, the court will keep a payment record and seek enforcement of the support order if it remains unpaid.
Hire an Experienced South Carolina Child Support Attorney Today!
Arguing income and expenses for purposes of determining child support can often be the biggest point of contention in a South Carolina divorce. To ensure you are represented fully and effectively, you should hire the experienced Greenville, South Carolina family law attorneys at Elliott Frazier Law Firm LLC. Our skilled family law attorneys can help you crunch the numbers and ensure your support obligation is fair and equitable. Contact us today for a case evaluation!