CHARLESTON CHILD SUPPORT ORDER ENFORCEMENT ATTORNEY JAY MCMILLIAN
HOW DO I GET PAID ON PAST DUE CHILD SUPPORT IN SOUTH CAROLINA
So, you have already been to Court and you have a Court order that says that you should receive monthly child support from the other parent. The months start ticking by and the support becomes less and less and less and eventually, it is not even being sent. How do you go about enforcing the child support order so that you can support your child?
The first step that a Family Court will take to prevent default by the supporting parent is to make child support payable through the Court. I encourage all of my clients that are entitled to a support payment to allow these payments to be made through the Court. It serves a vital record keeping function. It eliminates any “he said, she said” concerning the amount of the payments received and when they were received. The Child Support Enforcement Division of each county receives the payments and records the payment in their system. Then the payment is forwarded to the supported parent.
If payments are missed, the supported parent does not have to scramble to get proof of missed payments. The Enforcement Division will have the records needed to prosecute missed payments.
Parties can agree to have support payments be made directly instead of through the Family Court and Child Support Enforcement but when I represent parents of the supported child, I will recommend these payments go through the Court specifically for the reason stated above.
WHAT IS A RULE TO SHOW CAUSE IN A SOUTH CAROLINA FAMILY COURT
When a supporting parent falls behind on child support parents, the Family Court will issue what is known as a “Rule to Show Cause.” The Rule to Show Cause is a hearing in front of the Family Court judge. The supporting parent is summoned to appear before the Family Court to “show cause” as to why payments are being missed. A Rule to Show Cause is a Contempt of Court Hearing. By not paying, the supporting parent is in contempt of court for violating a Family Court order requiring the payments.
CONSEQUENCES OF BEING FOUND IN CONTEMPT AT A RULE TO SHOW CAUSE HEARING
If the court finds the supporting parent in contempt for missing child support payments, usually one of two things is going to happen. The Court will ask the supporting parent if it will be possible to bring the missed payments immediately current. Of course, the answer to this question is usually “no” since non-payment is the whole reason why everyone is there to begin with. Secondly, the Court will begin exploring measures that will bring about payment and also punish the offending parent for falling behind.
As far as getting payments established, the Court has the power to garnish wages. Family Courts in some instances have even required a supporting parent maintain a life insurance policy or provide some other type of security (collateral) to guarantee that in some manner, support payments will be made at some point in the future.
As far as punishment, by being in Contempt of Court, the supporting parent may be subject to fines, community service, and in cases of severe delinquency on payments, sentence to a jail term. I've personally witnessed offending parties get sentenced to 6 months in jail for missing support payments.
CAN I ENFORCE MY CHILD SUPPORT ORDER IN SOUTH CAROLINA IF OTHER PARENT LIVES OUT OF STATE
The answer is yes. A resident of South Carolina who is the custodial parent of a child and is under a Family Court order to receive child support can seek to have that order enforced in South Carolina. This is common when the parents split up, the child stays with a parent in South Carolina, and the non-custodial parent relocates out of state.
If the support order was issued in a South Carolina Family Court, then the South Carolina Family Court will always have jurisdiction over the support order. If the support order was issued in an out of state Family Court, and the parent with custody entitled to support moves to South Carolina, then that parent can take that Order to a South Carolina Family Court, have it registered, and seek enforcement here in South Carolina. It prevents the aggrieved party from having to travel either to the original Court or to the Court located in the state where the non-paying parent lives. If the South Carolina Court is enforcing the out of state order, the South Carolina Family Court will have to apply the law of the issuing state in executing enforcement.
HOW DO I GET AN ORDER FOR ALIMONY OR SPOUSAL SUPPORT ENFORCED
The enforcement mechanisms described above would also apply to non-payment of alimony or separate support and maintenance. The same obligations, same Rule to Show Cause Hearing, and same court mechanism for out of state support orders.
DO I NEED AN ATTORNEY TO ENFORCE MY SUPPORT ORDER
Yes you do!!! More often than not, in my experience, the attorney will be the one who has to initiate the Rule to Show Cause process so that the support order can be enforced. Again, a Rule to Show Cause hearing is a usually very short but very fact specific. You will need an experienced attorney who can prepare and submit the relevant evidence to support the action in the very limited time scheduled allowed for these hearings to be heard. The Court may even require that your attorney's fees resulting from enforcement be paid by the other party. It is too risky to navigate this process without legal counsel. Please give me a call and allow me to provide the expertise and service required to comfort you in this time of need and deliver the outcome you deserve.