Greenville Divorce Lawyer
John D. Compton, III
How child support is calculated is not, necessarily, straightforward. Generally child support is calculated with consideration of which parent has full or primary custody. Things like Insurance, Day Care, prior support obligations, the number of children, the income of the parties, and any “special needs” of the child(ren) are considered by the Court. The best interests of the parties’ children is paramount. Child support is paid to the custodial parent, or the parent who has custody of the children most of the time. Special rules may be applied under § 114-4730 if they stay with one parent at least 110 days overnight with the “non-custodial” or joint-custodial parent. The regulation can be found here.
In general, however, the court will apply the parties incomes, expenses, prior obligations, health insurance and the like (mentioned above) to a formula called the South Carolina Child Support Guidelines. In my practice, the Guidelines have been used almost exclusively when left up to the Family Court Judge to decide. Parties can always enter into a different agreement, which will be approved if the Court believes that is in the best interests of the children. Child support is based on a formula that considers total income and then calculates the percentage of gross income each party should pay out of that income. The child support guidelines worksheet can be found online, and one can get a idea of the range of child support he or she would pay (assuming their numbers are accurate). The Child Support Guideline worksheet can be found here.
Some warnings: Once child support is set, it becomes a part of a Court Order, and is enforceable by the contempt powers of the Family Court. And for custodial parents – Child Support is not tied to Visitation. A visitation Order is also enforceable by the contempt powers of the Court. A parent may be behind on child support, but still has the full right to visit his children. Finally, I’ve had clients who try to offset child support with in kind contributions of material support. This generally does not work, and if brought back into court, and absent strong evidence about the material support and the habits of the other parent, a person runs a substantial risk of being held in contempt. And, this kind of case is expensive to prove. The best solution is to pay child support as ordered.
Finally, child support is modifiable with a showing of a “substantial change in circumstances” of either parent. The burden for proving the need for such a change is very high, and also hard to prove. We will cover other issues or questions raised by this post in future blogs. Stay tuned…