Child Support in South Carolina

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Child support in South Carolina is regulated by Child Support Services, a division of the South Carolina Department of Social Services.  Below are some answers to frequently asked questions about child support.

Establishing Child Support Initially – When the Parents Are Not Married

Frequently, the first step to getting child support is establishing paternity.  This is particularly true in cases where the parents are not married to each other. The law in South Carolina views this as important for establishing an ongoing father child relationship.  Establishing paternity can be a process that is voluntary.  This would require both parents sign a voluntary paternity acknowledgement.

However, not all parents are mutually in agreement about the identity of the father.  If there is a dispute over paternity, it can be decided by a family court order or by an administrative order by South Carolina’s Child Support Services Division.  In some cases, where there is a dispute over paternity, a paternity test may be ordered.  These tests are highly accurate and will resolve any issue of paternity to a very high degree of certainty.

When investigating paternity, all information collected by the South Carolina Child Support Division will be kept strictly confidential.  Genetic testing is done using the “buccal swab” method.  A trained technician will use a swab, running it inside the person’s mouth and swabbing the person’s cheek.  The technician will then send the sample to a lab for testing.  The process is painless and simple.  If the test result is 0.00 percent, this means there is a zero percent chance that the subject is the father.  In that situation, the case will be closed with regard to that individual.  If the test result is 95 percent or higher, that creates a presumption of paternity and the case will proceed.

Establishing Child Support In Cases Where the Parents Are Married

If a child’s parents are married, the husband is the presumed father of the child.  This will also be true if the child is born after the parents separate but the child is born within nine months of the separation.

The amount of child support awarded is ultimately decided by a family court judge.  However, as a base, the state of South Carolina uses a child support calculator which can be found here.  This calculator requires you enter accurate and complete information about both parties financial and household circumstances.  Inaccurate information will lead to inaccurate results.  It is important to know, however, that the court can take other information into consideration.  The calculator can be a helpful tool, but is no guarantee.

What do Employers Need to Know?

Employers play a key role in collecting child support.  State and federal laws require employers to participate in collecting child support.  All court orders involving a child support order or modification issued after January 3, 1994 are required to be enforced by employer mandatory withholding.

Employers must withhold income when informed by any of the following parties:

  • Clerk of Court from a county in South Carolina;
  • Court order from another state; or
  • Child support agency from another state.

All wages and compensation are subject to income withholding.  An employer must also report the availability of health insurance for a child that is covered by a child support order.  If an employer does not withhold child support as required, they may be required to pay the amount of child support it failed to withhold.  If an employee has multiple child support withholding orders, the employer must enforce all of the withholding orders.

When an employee disputes the amount of the withholding, the employer should contact the issuing authority immediately.  The employer should not simply take the employee at their word, or modify the withheld amount unilaterally.

How Does Child Support Affect Visitation?

Child support and visitation are not related.  In fact, the South Carolina Child Support Services Division has no authority over the issue of visitation.  The organization does acknowledge the importance of a child receiving the financial and emotional support of both parents.  Child Support Services Division has started a pilot project it calls Visitation Involvement Parenting.  This is a mediation service to assist parents in resolving visitation and access disputes.  This program also provides employment training service to the noncustodial parent to help them provide any ordered financial support for the child.

How Does the Affordable Care Act Affect Child Support Obligations?

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that most Americans be covered by health insurance.  Failure to have health insurance will result in IRS penalties.  If the noncustodial parent is ordered to provide medical insurance, but fails to do so, that party will be subject to the IRS penalty if the noncustodial parent claims the child as a dependent for tax purposes.

Is a Child Support Order Subject to Future Review?

Child support orders in South Carolina can be reviewed every three years.  This can result in an increase or a decrease in child support ordered, dependent on income, as well as other facts and circumstances the judge chooses to take into consideration.

What Are the Custodial Parents Options If the Noncustodial Parent Is Not Paying Child Support Regularly?

If the noncustodial parent is not paying child support regularly, South Carolina law provides the following remedies:

  • Withdrawal of the support from the noncustodial parent’s wages or unemployment benefits;
  • Contempt of court findings which could potentially result in jail time;
  • Federal prosecution if the noncustodial parent resides out of the state of South Carolina;
  • Collection of the refunds from state and federal tax refunds;
  • Collection from worker’s compensation funds;
  • Revocation professional or occupational licenses from the noncustodial parent; and
  • Report of the noncustodial parent to the credit agencies.

Child support is a critical component to raising children.  No one should have to raise a child without both parents providing financial support.  If you should be getting child support, or if you want to seek to amend the child support you are currently receiving, the well versed family law attorneys in Greenville at Elliott Frazier Law Firm, LLC are here to help.  Contact us today.

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