Child Support Factors in South Carolina

Every state in the country has basic child support guidelines that are similar in many ways, but different enough to reflect each state’s unique posture towards child support. Some states try to simplify the child support calculation by just working with a payor’s net income number, and allowing a scant few deductions such as basic federal and state taxes and medical insurance in an effort to “get tough” against payor parents.

Other states try and factor in the just about every conceivable variety of difference and unique element that make up life, in a noble effort to reach the “most accurate” and fair child support amounts.

The good news is that South Carolina Family Law judges can take into account the extraordinary variety of different incomes and expenses, assets and liabilities that divorcing parties bring to the table. However, the Family Court must be shown good reason to look outside guideline support for any deviation, which means that most parents can expect guideline support to apply.

The state’s child support guidelines are based on something called an Income Shares Model. There, the court calculates what would have been total income available to the children if the parents had stayed together. Then the judge assigns financial responsibility based upon each parent’s proportion of the total gross income of the parties combined.

The total monthly gross income number is reached by taking the monthly child support calculation fromthe Code of Laws of South Carolina, and then adding the monthly child-related insurance premiums and work-related child care costs.

That figure is then divided according to the proportion of the total gross income each parent earns, which his derived from their W-2s and other financial information.

If the court deviates from South Carolina guideline support, however, any one or more of the following factors can be used by the Family Court, including:

  • The gross income of the parents, and each parents’ percentage of contribution to gross.
  • Any prior orders of child support against the paying spouse.
  • The debts of the parents.
  • Any other children in the home, and whether there are more than 6 children.
  • Cost of the childrens’ health insurance and party shouldering the burden.
  • Any extraordinary health or medical expenses of the children.
  • The distribution of property.
  • Amount of alimony being paid to parent.
  • Amount paid for childcare.
  • Any income generated by the minor child.
  • Any reasonable agreement reached between the parents.

Taking these factors into account can better help South Carolina family court judges reach more individually fair and equitable child support arrangements that support the children. In particular, it can allow a lesser earning spouse to still contribute to the kids without breaking the bank in situations where a deviation from guideline support may be appropriate.

If the combined gross income of the parents is less than approximately $750 per month, the court typically carefully considers the ability of each parent to contribute to make certain child support, but typically does not force a parent into financial crisis.

However, it is routine for the court to require a non-custodial parent to pay at least $100 per month. The low earning or unemployed parent is actively encouraged to seek employment to provide a greater level of support in the future.

The divorce laws of South Carolina do not bend over backwards to create an entrenched, hard-line approach favoring the highest possible child support levels can both drive a non-custodial parent to financial despair, and create lingering bad blood between divorced parents.

As a part of the total child support calculation, the court also looks at the number of nights that the non-custodial parent will be having the child(ren) in any given year.  If the non-residential parent will be spending less than 110 nights (1/3) with the children, the parent gets no parenting credit or deduction.

The court will then stick to the total computed proportional gross income of each party, and assign financial responsibility based upon the percentage of total gross income of each parent.

However, if the non-custodial parent will be spending 110 nights or more with the child, then a child support credit could apply which could take the figure outside of guidelines support.

All of these different factors go into the complex calculation that is a final child support figure in South Carolina. Depending upon the income of the parents, the different factors in their lives, both when the parents get divorced and after, this can impact the amount of child support paid until the child or children reach the age of 18, and sometimes beyond.