What is a child support modification, and can I get one in SC?
The amount of child support is determined by a number of factors, including the parents’ incomes, the number of children in the home, and more – what happens when those factors change?
Below, we will answer some common questions about child support modification in SC, including:
- What child support modification is,
- What types of changes in circumstances justify a child support modification,
- How you file for child support modification,
- Whether you need an attorney for child support modification, and
- How to fight a child support modification.
What is Child Support Modification?
Child support is calculated based on the SC Child Support Guidelines, which take into consideration a number of factors 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.
These factors can change over time, however, and SC law allows for a child support modification – lowering or increasing the amount of child support – when one side can show that there has been a change in circumstances.
Has There Been a Change in Circumstances?
SC Code Section 63-17-310 gives the family court the authority to enforce child support orders and to modify child support orders when there is a showing of a change in circumstances:
The family court has the authority to enforce the provisions of any decree, judgment, or order regarding child support of a court of this State, including cases with jurisdiction based on the revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act, provided that personal jurisdiction has been properly established. This authority includes the right to modify any such decree, judgment, or order for child support as the court considers necessary upon a showing of changed circumstances.
A modification of child support is only effective as to child support owed after the date of filing and service of the modification action, however.
If you delay in requesting a child support modification based on a decrease in income, for example, if you have become unemployed, you will still owe back child support for the time period before you filed the modification action.
Examples of a Change in Circumstances
So, what is a change in circumstances that would justify a child support modification?
The most common reason for a modification request is a change in income, including:
- Loss of a job or a decrease in earnings,
- A substantial increase in the paying spouse’s earnings,
- The termination of alimony payments, or
- Any substantial increase or decrease in earnings for either parent.
Other changes in circumstances that could justify modifying child support payments include:
- A change in the child’s medical or educational needs,
- A change in the number of children in the home,
- A change in healthcare or childcare costs, or
- A change in the parents’ custody arrangements.
Child Support can be Lowered or Increased…
A child support modification can result in lowering the amount of child support paid or it can result in an increase in child support.
For example, a father who has just adopted two children and whose income has decreased due to a layoff at work can petition the court for a reduction in the amount of child support paid. Or a mother who has just been promoted to a six-figure job may be required to pay additional child support to the father who has custody of their children.
FAQ for Child Support Modification Lawyers in Myrtle Beach, SC
Below are general answers to some common questions that we hear about child support modifications in Myrtle Beach, SC. If you have questions about child support, however, you should contact a child support modification attorney who can review your situation and provide answers based on your unique circumstances.
How Do I File for a Child Support Modification?
Your attorney can file a child support modification request on your behalf in the family court. The action must be filed in the appropriate county, served on the other parent, and then you will present evidence of your change in circumstances to the family court.
There may be additional motion hearings and some discovery may be necessary, depending on the facts of your case.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Child Support Modification?
Any person can represent themselves in family court, although it is not advised. You may only get one chance to present your evidence, and, if the court rules against you, it will be an uphill battle to attempt to get the decision overturned or to get back into court with a second request.
Does Child Support Change Automatically if Income Changes?
Child support modification is not automatic – you must file an action in the family court and present evidence of the change in circumstances to a family court judge.
Does Child Support Change if My Ex Gets Remarried?
The remarriage of a spouse does not by itself justify a child support modification. If other factors from the Child Support Guidelines change, however, the Court may consider increasing or decreasing the amount of child support paid.
Does Child Support Change if My Ex’s Salary Increases?
A substantial change in your ex’s salary may be a change in circumstances that justifies a child support modification.
Can I Fight a Child Support Modification?
If your child’s other parent is requesting a modification of child support, you will be served with notice of the modification action. You can then:
- File an Answer to their modification request, agreeing to it or disputing it,
- File counterclaims and ask the court for any other relief that you are entitled to,
- Ask the court for discovery from the other party – you are entitled to see the evidence that would support their modification request, and
- Defend against the modification action, presenting evidence in court that there is no change in circumstances or that the other parent is not entitled to the modification.
Questions About Child Support Modification?
If you are unable to pay your child support due to a change in circumstances or if you feel that you are entitled to additional child support due to a change in circumstances, call your SC child support lawyer at Axelrod and Associates for a consultation.