How is child support calculated in SC? What are the SC Child Support Guidelines?
If you are considering separation or divorce and if you have children, one of the first questions you may have is whether you are entitled to child support from your spouse and how much. On the other hand, if your spouse will have full custody of the children, one of your first questions may be whether you must pay child support and how much.
Whether child support must be paid and the amount of child support that must be paid is determined by the SC Child Support Guidelines, which contain factors that the courts use to determine the amount of child support and factors that courts may consider when deviating from SC’s Child Support Guidelines.
How is Child Support Calculated in SC?
Child support is calculated in SC using the SC Child Support Guidelines, which we will discuss below. First, let’s take a look at a convenient tool offered by SC’s Department of Social Services for quick estimates of the amount of child support that should be paid.
SC DSS Online Child Support Calculator
SC DSS provides an online child support calculator that you can use to get a quick estimate of the amount of child support that is appropriate under the SC Child Support Guidelines.
The online calculator is intended to provide an estimate only, and, depending on the information that you enter, it may not give an accurate result for your unique circumstances. As a disclaimer on the site says, results may vary, and the Family Court will make the final decision as to the amount of child support:
The accuracy of the result is dependent upon the accuracy of the income and deduction amounts you enter. Some attorneys may use other models that may produce slightly different results. In all child support cases, the Family Court Judge has the authority to determine the amount of child support to be paid.
The online calculator’s questions are based on the SC Child Support Guidelines, which may provide additional factors that apply to your case and that could change the outcome.
SC Child Support Guidelines
SC’s Child Support Guidelines are used to determine the amount of child support in all SC family court cases. They can be used to help spouses reach an agreement as to the amount of child support they will agree to in a separation or settlement agreement, and they are used by the family court to approve or reject an agreement between spouses as to the amount of child support.
The Child Support Guidelines include factors the Court can use to calculate the amount of child support, but they also include factors that the Court can use to deviate from the Child Support Guidelines.
What are the Factors Used to Calculate Child Support in SC?
Section 3 of the Child Support Guidelines lists each of the factors that should be considered by the Court when determining child support awards, including:
- The gross income of each parent (and how to calculate gross income),
- Income from self-employment or business operations,
- The potential income for each parent if they are voluntarily unemployed or underemployed,
- Monthly alimony paid by either spouse,
- Monthly alimony or child support paid pursuant to previous court orders,
- Other children in the home (natural or adopted children, but not stepchildren),
- A self-support reserve for low-income parents (currently $748.00 per month that must be reserved for the parent’s self-support),
- Health insurance – the Court should require coverage by one or both parents, whoever can provide the most comprehensive coverage at the most reasonable cost,
- Childcare costs, and
- Shared parenting arrangements.
Ordinarily, the Court will determine each parent’s income from the financial declarations that must be filed with the Court – if there is no financial declaration or if the financial declarations are disputed, the Court can look at other sources to verify income like paystubs, employer statements, receipts, expenses, or tax returns.
What are the Factors that Allow Courts to Deviate from the Child Support Guidelines in SC?
SC Code Section 63-17-470 says that there is a “rebuttable presumption” that the guidelines amount is correct. The Court can deviate, however, if the Court finds that the guidelines amount would be “unjust or inappropriate:”
In any proceeding for the award of child support, there is a rebuttable presumption that the amount of the award which would result from the application of the guidelines required under Section 43-5-580(b) is the correct amount of child support to be awarded. A different amount may be awarded upon a showing that application of the guidelines in a particular case would be unjust or inappropriate. When the court orders a child support award that varies significantly from the amount resulting from the application of the guidelines, the court shall make specific, written findings of those facts upon which it bases its conclusion supporting that award. Findings that rebut the guidelines must state the amount of support that would have been required under the guidelines and include a justification of why the order varies from the guidelines.
The factors that the Court can consider to deviate from the Child Support Guidelines include:
(1) educational expenses for the child or children or the spouse, to include those incurred for private, parochial, or trade schools, other secondary schools, or post-secondary education where there is tuition or related costs;
(2) equitable distribution of property;
(3) consumer debts;
(4) families with more than six children;
(5) unreimbursed extraordinary medical or dental expenses for the noncustodial or custodial parent;
(6) mandatory deduction of retirement pensions and union fees;
(7) support obligations for other dependents living with the noncustodial parent or noncourt ordered child support from another relationship;
(8) child-related unreimbursed extraordinary medical expenses;
(9) monthly fixed payments imposed by a court or operation of law;
(10) significant available income of the child or children;
(11) substantial disparity of income in which the noncustodial parent’s income is significantly less than the custodial parent’s income, thus making it financially impracticable to pay what the guidelines indicate the noncustodial parent should pay;
(12) alimony; because of their unique nature, lump sum, rehabilitative, reimbursement, or any other alimony that the court may award, may be considered by the court as a possible reason for deviation from these guidelines; and
(13) agreements reached between parties.
The amount of child support is determined by the application of the guidelines, but the Court will allow parties to deviate from the guidelines amount when it is appropriate based on the factors listed above.
Depending on your circumstances, your SC child support attorney on the Axelrod team will help you to:
- Determine the appropriate amount of child support,
- Negotiate an agreement with your spouse or former spouse,
- Demand child support when appropriate,
- Contest child support when appropriate,
- Ask the Court for a modification of child support, or
- Enforce the payment of child support through a Rule to Show Cause.