If you pay child support in South Carolina, it’s important to know your rights. There are times when it may be appropriate to seek modification of the support you are paying. Likewise, for those receiving child support, it’s very important to keep track of what you are receiving in order to determine if it’s appropriate to seek a modification order. At the Elliott Frazier Law Firm, we may be able to help with your attempts to reduce or increase child support, depending on the circumstances. Here’s what you need to know about asking for a change in child support.
If You Pay Child Support
If you are currently paying child support, you probably already know there are steep penalties for failing to comply. In South Carolina, new laws have created a new system for the Department of Social Services to monitor and track compliance. If you don’t pay the court-ordered support, you could face court fines, loss of driving privileges, loss of hunting and fishing licenses, and even jail time.
So, when is it a good idea to seek modification of the amount you pay? In general, the court will allow you to seek modification of support through a petition. Under Section 63-17-470 of the state’s Family Code, you can seek modification when there is a substantial change in circumstances. Here are some reasons you may need to seek modification:
- You lost your job involuntarily
- You had to move and incurred substantial expenses
- You have other children whether by your ex or someone else
- You are facing significant medical expenses
- You are disabled
- You are a full-time student who was displaced from a prior career
- Any other reasonable grounds
Reasons the court will generally not consider include:
- You quit your job
- You left a high-paying position to go back to school
- You took on too much debt and can’t pay your bills
- You are caring for children who are not yours
If You Receive Child Support
On the other hand, if you are a child support recipient, there may be times when you need to petition the court to increase support payments. This should be used sparingly, however, because courts disfavor individuals who abuse the system to harass or punish an ex. If you bring this petition every year just to see what your ex is earning, expect the judge to be displeased. On the other hand, you might want to file your petition if any of the following are true:
- Your ex is making more money
- You discover that your ex has received a large windfall (personal injury settlement, workers’ compensation award, inheritance, etc…)
- Your ex has started a business and you believe he or she is earning considerably more money
- Your ex was previously responsible for child support to other children, but they have since turned 18
How a Greenville Family Law Attorney Can Help
The court will not retroactively apply child support modifications. Any change in support is effective beginning with the date on which the petition was filed. Therefore, if you are struggling to make payments, or you believe an ex is making more money, it’s important to file early. At the Elliott Frazier Law Firm, we have considerable experience helping prepare these petitions for clients. If you need help, call our Greenville family law attorney now.