Child Support Cases in South Carolina: Key Insights and Guidance

Child support cases in South Carolina ensure that parents meet a child’s financial needs. In the state, child support is determined by various factors such as the income of both parents, the child’s needs, and any unique circumstances applicable to each case. Understanding the intricacies of child support cases is vital for parents navigating the process to secure the best possible outcome for their children.

The South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) is responsible for enforcing child support laws and implementing orders issued by the court. DSS offers resources and assistance to custodial and non-custodial parents involved in child support cases, ensuring they understand their roles and responsibilities in the process. This includes calculating child support payments, handling modifications to existing orders, and enforcing payment compliance.

Key Takeaways

  • Child support in South Carolina is determined by factors such as income and the child’s needs
  • The Department of Social Services enforces child support laws and offers resources to parents
  • Parents must be aware of their roles, responsibilities, and legal aspects of child support cases

Understanding Child Support


Child Support Guidelines

In South Carolina, child support guidelines are in place to ensure that both parents contribute financially to the needs of their children. These guidelines consider factors such as the parent’s income, the number of children, and the children’s specific needs. By following these guidelines, courts ensure a fair and consistent approach to determining child support obligations. Parents can better understand the guidelines and their obligations through the assistance of an experienced child support lawyer.

Child Support Orders

A child support order is a legal document that establishes the amount of child support one parent must provide to the other to financially support their child(ren). In South Carolina, child support orders are often based on the state’s child support guidelines. Once established, the paying parent is legally obligated to make regular payments according to the order. Failing to do so can result in penalties such as wage garnishments or even jail time.

Child Support Services Division

The Child Support Services Division (CSSD) provides services and support to help parents establish, enforce, and modify child support orders in South Carolina. The CSSD assists with locating non-custodial parents, establishing paternity, obtaining and enforcing child support orders, and collecting and distributing child support payments. By working with CSSD, custodial parents can receive appropriate financial support for their children, while non-custodial parents can ensure they fulfill their legal obligations.

Child Support Obligation

A child support obligation is the legal responsibility of a parent to support their child(ren) financially. This obligation typically lasts until the child turns 18 or graduates high school, whichever occurs later in South Carolina. The amount of child support a parent must pay is determined by several factors, including the parents’ respective incomes, the number of children, and the child’s specific needs. Parents may benefit from consulting with knowledgeable professionals like Rock Hill Child Support Lawyers to comprehend and navigate their child support obligation fully.

Role of Parents

Custodial Parent

The custodial parent is the one with primary physical custody of the child. This parent is responsible for meeting the child’s basic needs, ensuring their well-being, and maintaining a safe and nurturing environment. Some key responsibilities of the custodial parent include:

  • Providing for the child’s physical needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter
  • Ensuring the child’s emotional and social needs are met
  • Facilitating education and enrolling the child in a suitable school
  • Securing access to healthcare and medical attention when needed
  • Providing routine and structure to the child’s life

In South Carolina, the custodial parent also has the legal authority to make critical decisions on behalf of the child, such as their education, healthcare, and religious upbringing.

Noncustodial Parent

Although not awarded primary physical custody, the noncustodial parent still has responsibilities and rights concerning the child. This parent has to provide financial support to ensure the child’s needs are met adequately. In addition to this financial obligation, noncustodial parents often have visitation or parenting time rights to maintain contact and a relationship with their child.

Some responsibilities and rights for noncustodial parents are:

  • Paying child support as per the court order
  • Providing additional support for medical expenses, extracurricular activities, and other needs
  • Respecting and honoring the custody and visitation arrangements put in place
  • Remaining involved in the child’s life and development, even from a distance
  • Communicating and collaborating with the custodial parent for the child’s best interests

In South Carolina, the amount of child support a noncustodial parent must pay is determined by state guidelines, which consider factors such as each parent’s income, number of children, and childcare costs, healthcare, and education. The noncustodial parent needs to stay informed on their obligations and follow the guidelines and court orders to avoid legal complications and ensure the child’s welfare.

Income and Payment Types


Gross Income

Gross income is an essential factor in child support cases as it helps determine the amount of financial support a parent must provide. In South Carolina, gross income includes:

  • Wages and salary
  • Overtime pay
  • Commissions
  • Self-employment income
  • Rents received

To calculate child support payments, both parents’ gross incomes are combined and adjusted based on each parent’s share of income.


Bonuses can also impact child support payments. In South Carolina, bonuses are considered additional income and may be factored into the child support calculation. If a parent receives a substantial bonus, it could increase the support they are required to provide. Remember that the court may also consider the frequency and consistency of bonuses when determining the appropriate amount.

Severance Pay

Severance pay is another source of income that may affect child support calculations. If a parent receives severance pay, they are still obligated to make child support payments during this time. Courts will often consider the amount of severance pay and the time it covers when adjusting child support payments.

Social Security

Social Security benefits are counted as income for child support purposes. If a parent receives Social Security benefits, such as retirement, disability, or survivor benefits, these amounts will be included in the child support calculation. In some cases, a child may be eligible to receive benefits directly based on the non-custodial parent’s Social Security record, resulting in a potential reduction in the child support obligation.


A pension is also considered income for child support purposes. If a parent receives pension payments, this income will be included in the child support calculation. Additionally, suppose a parent has not yet started receiving pension payments but has a vested interest in a pension plan. In that case, the court may consider this a source of future income when determining child support payments.

Child Support Calculation

In South Carolina, child support calculations follow the state’s specific guidelines and are primarily based on the income of both parents. The aim is to ensure adequate support for children while considering the financial status of each parent. This process is standardized and is often done using a child support calculator.

Using a Child Support Calculator

A child support calculator is an efficient tool to estimate the amount of child support one may expect in South Carolina. It considers various factors, such as:

  • The combined gross income of both parents
  • Number of children involved
  • Expenses for health insurance, daycare, and extraordinary medical costs
  • Parenting time and shared custody arrangements

To use a child support calculator, input the relevant information, and the calculator will generate an estimated amount. Remember that the accuracy of the calculations will depend on the quality and accuracy of the data provided.

When using a calculator, it is crucial to understand that it only provides an estimate and should not be treated as the final decision on the support amount. The court has the final say and may deviate from the calculated amount if exceptional circumstances are presented, such as:

  • Unusual or extenuating financial needs of the child
  • Income discrepancies between the parents
  • Any history of voluntary unemployment or underemployment

In summary, a child support calculator is a helpful tool for estimating the amount based on South Carolina’s guidelines. At the same time, it remains essential to remember that the court ultimately determines the child support. Providing accurate data and accounting for any unique circumstances that may affect the outcome will help achieve a fair and appropriate support calculation.

Legal Aspects

Establishing Paternity

In South Carolina, establishing paternity is crucial in child support cases. This is the legal process of determining the child’s biological father, which has significant implications for both the father and the child.

First and foremost, a court order may be required to establish paternity. A paternity action can be initiated by either the child’s mother, the presumed father, or the child (through a legal representative). Depending on the circumstances, the parties involved may voluntarily agree to acknowledge paternity, or DNA testing may be necessary to confirm the biological relationship.

It is vital to engage the services of an attorney or lawyer who is experienced in handling child support cases, as they can guide you through the complex legal issues surrounding paternity, such as:

  • Navigating the court process
  • Dealing with court orders and regulations
  • Advising on available modification options
  • Providing legal representation in court

Here are a few key points to consider about establishing paternity in South Carolina:

  • Until paternity is established, a child may not have the same rights and benefits as those with legally recognized parents
  • Establishing paternity also establishes a legal responsibility to provide financial support for the child
  • It is important to remember that once paternity is established, it may be difficult to reverse or modify the outcome

In summary, establishing paternity is critical to ensuring a child receives proper financial support and access to the legal rights and benefits they deserve. Engaging the expertise of an attorney or lawyer with experience in child support cases is vital to navigating the complex legal landscape of paternity and child support in South Carolina.

Healthcare and Child Support

When it comes to child support cases in South Carolina, healthcare plays a significant role. Ensuring that children receive appropriate health care coverage is crucial to child support. This section will focus on health insurance and the responsibilities of both parents in providing for the child’s medical needs.

Health Insurance

As part of a child support agreement in South Carolina, one or both parents may be required to provide health insurance for the child. In many cases, the noncustodial parent takes on this responsibility. The court considers the accessibility and affordability of the insurance to determine which parent should provide it.

  • Accessibility: The health insurance must be accessible to the child, meaning it should cover their medical needs within a reasonable distance from their residence.
  • Affordability: The cost of coverage should not place an undue financial burden on the parent. The court considers the insurance affordable if its cost does not exceed 5% of the parent’s monthly gross income.

When neither parent can obtain accessible or affordable insurance, they may be ordered to share the costs of a private policy or contribute to public health care programs, such as Medicaid.

If the child has existing health issues or requires specialized care, additional considerations come into play:

  • Extraordinary Medical Expenses: These costs go beyond regular checkups, vaccinations, and prescriptions. They may include surgery, hospitalization, therapy, or outpatient care expenses. In cases involving extraordinary medical expenses, the court may allocate them between the parents based on their income and ability to pay. The expenses may be incorporated into the child support obligation, or the parents may be required to pay them separately, as determined by the court.

South Carolina courts prioritize the child’s health and well-being when addressing healthcare and child support. By considering factors such as health insurance, accessibility, affordability, and extraordinary medical expenses, the court ensures that the child receives necessary medical care and support from both parents.

Child Support Modification


Child support cases in South Carolina can be modified for various reasons. When situations change, either parent can request a modification to ensure that the child continues to receive the necessary financial support.

Increasing Child Support

There are circumstances where a parent may seek to have child support increased. This can happen when the non-custodial parent’s income significantly increases or when the child’s expenses considerably grow. Changes in the child’s needs, such as new medical or educational costs, may warrant increased child support.

To increase child support payments, the requesting parent must provide evidence of the changed circumstances to the court. Documentation such as pay stubs, tax returns, or expense receipts can be presented to strengthen the case.

Some tips for requesting an increase in child support include:

  • Keep detailed records of your child’s expenses
  • Gather relevant documentation to support your request
  • Communicate with the other parent before seeking court intervention

Decreasing Child Support

Sometimes, a parent may need to request a decrease in child support payments. This might occur if the non-custodial parent experiences a significant decrease in income due to job loss or illness.

To decrease child support payments, the parent must demonstrate to the court that they are experiencing a substantial change in their financial circumstances. Evidence such as proof of unemployment, medical records, or a reduction in income should be submitted to the court.

Essential steps to follow when seeking a decrease in child support include:

  • Provide documentation of your changed financial situation
  • Communicate with the other parent about your need for a decrease
  • Be prepared to present your case to a judge or mediator

Remember, both parents are responsible for providing for their child’s financial well-being. In South Carolina, child support modifications can be a helpful tool for ensuring that the child’s needs are met, regardless of changes in each parent’s circumstances.

Parental Responsibilities and Rights

In South Carolina, child support cases ensure that parents maintain their responsibilities and rights toward their children. Regarding alimony and interaction with the other parent, the state laws consider various factors to reach a fair decision for all parties involved.

Firstly, both parents must provide financial support for their child. In most cases, the non-custodial parent will be ordered to pay child support, while the custodial parent bears the child’s day-to-day expenses. The state uses an “Income Shares Model” to compute the amount of child support, factoring in the parents’ combined income and the number of children.

The following are the main factors considered in determining child support:

  • Gross income of both parents
  • Childcare and educational expenses
  • Health insurance costs
  • Extraordinary medical expenses
  • Visitation transportation costs

Another vital aspect of parental responsibilities and rights is the members’ ability to make crucial decisions for their children. This includes matters related to education, health, and religion. Courts in South Carolina usually grant joint legal custody, allowing both parents to contribute to these significant decisions.

Regarding visitation and parenting time, South Carolina encourages parents to cooperate and develop a best parenting plan for their situation. This plan should include:

  • A detailed visitation schedule
  • Holiday arrangements
  • A system for handling any modifications to the plan
  • Communication guidelines between parents

If the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, the court will decide based on the child’s best interest. Factors influencing this decision may include:

  • Each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s needs
  • The child’s relationship with each parent
  • The stability of each parent’s home environment
  • Any history of domestic violence or substance abuse

In conclusion, parental responsibilities and rights in South Carolina involve a balance of financial support, decision-making authority, and time spent with the child. By focusing on these aspects and considering the child’s best interest, the state aims to ensure a fair and supportive environment for the child’s development.

Enforcement and Penalties


Child support enforcement and penalties in South Carolina are taken seriously to ensure parents fulfill their legal obligations towards their children. When a parent fails to pay child support, the consequences can be severe, including contempt of court and even jail sentences.

Contempt of court is one of the primary ways the legal system enforces child support orders. If a noncustodial parent fails to pay the required child support, the custodial parent can file a motion for contempt with the court. The judge will then determine if the non-payment was willful or due to financial hardship. If the non-payment is willful, the noncustodial parent may face penalties such as fines, jail time, or both.

Child support enforcement options in South Carolina include:

  • Wage garnishment: Employers must garnish the wages of any employee who owes child support, withholding a specified amount and sending it directly to the custodial parent.
  • Income tax refund interceptions: The state can intercept a noncustodial parent’s income tax refund and apply it toward past-due child support debts.
  • Suspension and revocation of licenses: Noncustodial parents behind on their child support payments may have their driver’s, professional, or recreational licenses suspended or revoked until payment is made in full.
  • Reporting to credit bureaus: Delinquent child support payments can be reported to the three major credit bureaus, negatively affecting the noncustodial parent’s credit score.

Regarding jail sentences, they are typically reserved for the most severe cases or for parents who consistently and willfully disregard their child support obligations. A judge may order a noncustodial parent to serve time in jail for contempt of court if it is determined that they can pay child support but refuse to do so. The main goal of incarcerating a noncustodial parent is not punishment but rather to encourage compliance with child support obligations.

Noncustodial parents in South Carolina must prioritize their child support payments and promptly communicate any financial difficulties with the court. Taking proactive steps can help avoid enforcement actions and penalties. On the other hand, custodial parents faced with non-payment should seek legal assistance to enforce child support orders. In the end, ensuring the child’s well-being remains the top priority for all parties involved.