CHARLESTON CHILD SUPPORT LAWYER JAY MCMILLIAN
HOW MUCH CHILD SUPPORT CAN I RECEIVE FROM A SOUTH CAROLINA FAMILY COURT?
Well . . . it depends (the default answer for all lawyers). In this case however, it really does depend . . . so let's jump to the next logical question. What does it depend on?
First and foremost, South Carolina law states that both parents share the duty to support their children. The amount of support that each parent must bear mainly comes down to monetary need of the parent and/or the ability of a parent to pay. It is from this premise that the South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) devised the DSS Child Support Guidelines
DSS CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES
The DSS Child Support Guidelines will be the baseline used by every Family Court Judge in South Carolina to determine which parent will pay support and how much. The DSS Child Support Guidelines take into account the following factors:
- Gross Income of Each Parent
- Alimony Payments
- Total of Child Support Payments Made to Other Parties
- Total Number of Children Living In Custodial Home
- Medical Costs and Insurance for the Child, Including Any Extraordinary Medical Expense
- Child Care Costs
This is important to know . . . By law the presumptive amount of support that is to be paid according to the Child Support Guidelines is deemed proper absent any evidence that warrants deviation.
Family Court Judges do retain the right to deviate from the DSS Child Support Guidelines, however this is very rare and when it does happen, the Family Court judge must make written findings on the record to justify the deviation. Factors that may warrant deviation include:
- Debt load of the parents
- Mandatory deductions from pay (union fee's, etc.)
- Significant Income from another source available to the child
- Educational Expenses (seen a lot with disabled children, special programs)
- Distribution of marital property in lieu of money payments
- Substantial difference in income between parents
- Unreimbursed extraordinary medical expenses for the child
This list is not exhaustive but it paints a picture of how a Family Court may deviate from the DSS Guidelines in determining child support.
Though one could argue the merits of the DSS Child Support Guidelines, it does for the most part provide one important function in Family Court . . . predictability. This is one issue where, absent extraordinary circumstances, there is black and white definition of what the law requires. Parents can enter into agreement on the amount of child support being paid, but the Family Court reserves the right to review such an agreement to insure that the amount is proper and in accordance with the guidelines. As a practical matter, when child support is addressed in any case that I am involved in, this is usually handled quite efficiently by the attorneys. The “numbers don't lie” (pay stubs, expenses, child care cost, etc. ) and both sides have the guidelines to use to get to the final destination.
DO I NEED AN ATTORNEY TO PURSUE CHILD SUPPORT
In my humble opinion, of course, I think you absolutely need an attorney to assist in your pursuit to receive child support. There is the obvious . . . knowing the law, knowing the paperwork, knowing the ins and outs of the DSS Guidelines and the required documentation to be accurate and successful. The most important factor is that child support awards are hard to amend. This is something that you want done right the first time. In terms of getting the child support for your child and also the investment of time and stress, invest in a lawyer and have this handled correctly the first time. As an advocate for clients seeking to receive child support, allow me to guide you through the process and be your lawyer, but also your friend and supporter in this matter.