Our Greenville child support lawyer Angela Frazier knows that when parents separate or divorce, raising a child becomes much more difficult.
Going from a two-parent to a one-parent household imposes a substantial financial burden on the parent who has primary custody. By the same token, the other parent can find it difficult to financially support his or her child without the income of the mother or father. Whether you are the parent who is seeking child support, or you’re the parent from whom support is being sought, you need seasoned legal counsel to advocate for your rights and interests.
Reach out to family attorney Angela Frazier in Greenville, SC to speak to a child support lawyer.
Why Do You Need a Child Support Lawyer?
Parents are tempted to handle the child support process on their own, and indeed they have the right to represent themselves in court. But for a number of reasons, it is strongly advised that you hire a child support lawyer in Greenville, SC.
Knowledge of the law and legal procedures
Child support is complicated, and misunderstanding the law or failing to follow the court’s rules can jeopardize your case. You need an advocate who understands child support statutes and court decisions, as well as civil procedure, evidence, and other rules.
The other parent has already hired a lawyer.
If the other parent retains an attorney, you can count on them building a case against you. Without legal counsel it will be considerably more difficult to either win the child support you deserve or to obtain an order that you can reasonably afford as the paying parent.
Child support cases can quickly become complicated.
A child support case may seem simple at first, but as evidence is uncovered, it may grow to be complex. For instance, the other parent may have income that he or she isn’t reporting, or you may have faced a recent job loss that makes it difficult to pay the amount requested or ordered.
What Does Child Support Cover?
South Carolina child support laws are designed to help parents pay for a child’s reasonable needs and expenses. Every case is different, but in general, child support will cover these expenses which benefit the child:
- Household goods
- Health care and health insurance
- Recreation, including sports leagues
- Extracurricular activities
It should be noted that some children have unusual or extraordinary expenses, such as children with special needs. Be sure to let your lawyer know all of the costs involved in caring for your child.
What Determines How Much Child Support Is in South Carolina?
South Carolina has adopted guidelines to determine how much child support should be ordered in each case. Using these guidelines, the South Carolina Department of Social Services has developed a formula which takes into account these factors:
- The number of children who are being supported
- How much time the child spends with both parents
- Both parents’ incomes and expenses
- The child’s needs, including education, health insurance, work-related daycare, and special needs
- The non-custodial parent’s ability to pay child support
- The child’s living standards before the parents separated or divorced
The guidelines and formulas are defaults, but judges are permitted to deviate from them in limited circumstances. A parent requesting a deviation must provide a compelling reason for the court to do so.
Can Child Support Be Adjusted or Modified in South Carolina?
Courts recognize that child support orders are not written in a vacuum. Life happens, and the circumstances of the parents or the child may change with time. South Carolina child support laws therefore allow either parent to ask the judge to modify a child support order.
However, requests for child support modification will only be granted if the party asking for an adjustment can show that substantial changes have taken place since the prior order was entered.
Some examples are:
- An increase or decrease in either parent’s income: This may be due to a promotion, demotion, job loss, bonus, or other circumstances.
- An increase or decrease in the child’s necessary expenses: For instance, if the child develops a medical condition that causes an increase in costs.
- Changes in child custody: Usually the non-custodial parent pays child support to the custodial parent, but a change in custody can alter who pays whom.
How Long Is Child Support Paid in South Carolina?
In most cases, a parent who has been ordered to pay child support must do so until the child turns 18 and/or graduates from high school. If a child turns 18 before finishing high school, the paying parent will likely keep paying child support until the child graduates. However, child support does not end automatically. The parent wishing to terminate child support must file a motion to request it.
There are exceptions for cases in which a child is disabled and thereby unable to take care of themselves. The judge may continue child support payments indefinitely. College-related expenses may also prolong child support payments.
Child Support Enforcement in South Carolina
If a parent is not receiving child support, he or she can take the other parent to court for contempt. The non-paying parent will be required to appear before the judge to explain why he or she is not making the payments. The parent may have a valid reason, such as a sudden job loss or an emergency event.
However, if at all possible, a parent who is unable to pay child support should ask for a modification instead of ceasing payments and waiting for the other parent to file a contempt motion.
Non-payment is a serious matter. To enforce a child support order, a judge may take these and other steps against the non-paying parent:
- Putting him or her in jail
- Withholding child support from wages or unemployment benefits
- Intercepting federal and/or state income tax refunds
- Garnishing worker’s compensation benefits
- Referring the parent to credit reporting agencies
- Revoking occupational, professional, or driver’s licenses
Contact an Experienced Child Support Lawyer in Greenville, SC
Regardless of which side of a child support case you’re on, let an experienced child support attorney represent you. We can assist you with establishing or modifying a child support order. If you aren’t being paid support or a contempt action is being pursued against you, we can also help. Attorney Angela Frazier is ready to go to work for you. Call our Greenville child support lawyer today.