If you are separated from your spouse or divorced and you have minor children, child support may be one of the most important questions on your mind.
Will I get child support if I have custody of my children?
How much child support will I get - or how much child support will I have to pay?
What happens if my spouse doesn't pay child support as ordered by the court?
If I'm unable to pay child support, can I change the amount of child support that I have to pay?
The answers, of course, depend on each individual situation, but there are guidelines that the courts follow that can help to predict the outcome in each case. Below, I'll discuss some of the more common questions our clients have about child support rules in SC.
What is Child Support in SC?
When one parent is given custody of a child, the other parent is usually required to pay child support to help with the expenses of raising the child.
Although child support can be set by agreement of the parties, the Court must approve the amount of child support and it will be incorporated into the Court's final Divorce Decree - if it is not paid, it may then become a matter of contempt of court...
Why Do We Have Child Support?
The State's position is that every parent has a responsibility to provide financial support to their children.
Although there are moral, religious, altruistic, or common-sense reasons for child support laws, the bottom line is the government doesn't want to pay for your children - if you are not supporting them, the government may end up spending money on welfare programs to support them for you, and the government does not want to spend money on your children...
Besides that, there are many other practical reasons for government-imposed child support obligations:
- Children who receive child support payments are less likely to live in poverty;
- Children who receive child support are more likely to be healthier and happier than those who don't;
- The parents are less likely to experience conflict (which also affects the child's well-being); and
- The non-custodial parent is more likely to be involved in their child's life and upbringing.
How Do I Get Child Support in SC?
If you have children and you are separating from your spouse, you need to immediately contact your divorce attorney and talk to them about a separation agreement that includes child support payments.
If your spouse is not willing to pay child support, your attorney can take them to court for a "temporary hearing," where the court will make a preliminary determination as to who should have custody of the children and how much child support the other parent should pay - the amount of child support should be in a court order so that it can be enforced if the parent fails to make their payments.
What if We Were Not Married - Can I Still Get Child Support?
Parents have a responsibility to care for their children and provide for them financially, whether the parents are married or not.
If your child's other parent is not providing financial support, talk to a child support attorney in Myrtle Beach immediately and find out what can be done to force them to pay.
How Much Child Support Should a Parent Have to Pay?
As a general rule, the amount of child support is determined by SC's child support guidelines - you can use DSS's child support calculator to get an idea of how much child support a court will order.
Courts do not always follow the guidelines, however, and they will take into account other factors that may change from case to case including the income and expenses of each parent, educational expenses, medical issues, the number of children, any income gap between the parents, alimony, and how the marital property has been divided.
How Do I Enforce a Child Support Order?
If the non-custodial parent is not paying child support as ordered by the court, you can file what is called a "rule to show cause," asking the Court to hold them in contempt of court if they do not make the payments.
You can file the motion, your attorney can file the motion, or, in some cases, a DSS attorney will file the motion for you.
If the Court finds that your ex-spouse has willfully failed to pay their child support, the Court can fine them or even put them in jail for contempt of court - and still order them to pay the full amount of child support owed.
Can I Modify the Amount of Child Support That I Pay?
What if you are the parent ordered to pay child support, you've lost your job, or you've taken a significant pay-cut, and now your ex-spouse is hauling you into court and threatening to put you in jail?
You are in a difficult spot and, in Horry County, SC, there is a real danger of going to jail - you will need to present evidence to prove to the Court that you have been paying as much child support as you can - paying nothing is unacceptable in many cases, but paying something, as much as you can, might keep you out of jail.
You will need to prove to the Court that your failure to pay was not willful, and present evidence to persuade the Court to reduce your child support obligation to a more reasonable amount based on the change in your circumstances.
Child support can be one of the more contentious issues in any divorce that involves children, and it should be negotiated as soon as possible between the parties. Whether you are newly separated from your spouse, filing for divorce, seeking to enforce a child support order, or need to modify a child support order, your Myrtle Beach divorce attorney at Axelrod and Associates can help.