Finalizing a divorce can be a long and emotional process; but when children are involved, it can become even more complex. Along with figuring out how to divide property and assets, a couple that files for a divorce must consider the needs of their shared children. In South Carolina, each parent is expected to contribute to a child’s well being. Typically, the non-custodial parent (the parent who spends less time with the child) is expected to make child support payments. This is because there is a presumption that the custodial parent (the parent who is the child’s primary caregiver) already spends a set amount of money on the child directly on a day-to-day basis. Although it may seem straightforward, some of the terms surrounding child support can actually be quite complicated. Thus, if you are concerned about the amount of your child support payments, it may be in your best interest to seek the advice of a family law attorney who can help advise you of your legal rights.
How is Child Support Calculated in South Carolina?
South Carolina has certain Child Support Guidelines along with a Child Support Calculator to estimate how much money a non-custodial parent may have to pay for child support. Typically, child support payments are calculated based on the following factors:
· The number of children;
· The income of both parents; and
· A child custody agreement.
Both parents are also expected to cover the costs associated with medical expenses, childcare and education. It is important to note that although it is presumed that the base amount of child support calculated by the Child Support Guidelines is accurate, this number can be subject to change by the court. The court has the authority to either increase or decrease the amount of child support if they determine that the amount provided by the Child Support Guidelines is unfair to the child or parent. Thus, if one of the parents believes that the amount is unjust, they can ask the court to adjust the child support amount before a final child support order is entered. The court will review several factors to decide whether or not to make an adjustment. If the court does decide to deviate from the Child Support Guidelines, it is required to clearly provide its reasoning in writing.
Modifying a Child Support Agreement
Once a child support agreement is entered, the court must get involved before modifying the child support amount. Either parent is eligible for requesting a change, however when a parent seeks to reduce the child support amount they must provide proof of a substantial change in their circumstances. Examples of a substantial life change may include the following:
· Loss of income;
· The development of a serious illness; or
· Child emancipation.
Consult a Child Support Attorney
If you have any questions regarding child support payments, the experienced Charleston family law attorneys of Ayers Family Law, LLC can help you. We have extensive knowledge regarding the Child Support Guidelines of South Carolina and will carefully evaluate the circumstances surrounding your case so that we can successfully represent your interests.