Mothers and fathers are required by law to support all of their minor children, whether the children were born during marriage or out of wedlock.
In almost every case, one parent will be ordered to provide child support payments to the other parent. The Family Court is required to use the South Carolina Child Support Guidelines to determine the amount of child support to be paid if the combined pre-tax annual incomes of both parents total $240,000.00 or less per year. A judge is permitted to deviate from the guideline amounts, but only if extraordinary circumstances warrant such a deviation. Where the combined family pre-tax annual incomes exceed $240,000.00 per year, then the Family Court will make a determination of the child support to be paid without regard to the South Carolina Child Support Guidelines, using, instead, factors such as the standard of living enjoyed by the parties, their relative incomes, the needs and expenses of the children, and other factors historically considered by the Court.
A parent’s obligation to provide child support for a child usually ends when the child attains the age of 18 years, unless: (1) the child becomes emancipated sooner; (2) special circumstances exists to justify requiring the parent to continue providing support for their child; or (3) the parents agree to continue providing support. Child support payments are ordinarily terminated by the death of the child or the party making the payments.
Parents who are separated or divorced may be required by the Family Court to contribute funds to enable a child over 18 to attend 4 years of college where there is evidence that: (1) the characteristics of the child indicate that he or she will benefit from college; (2) the child demonstrates the ability to do well, or at least make satisfactory grades; (3) the child cannot otherwise go to school; and (4) the parent has a financial ability to help pay for such an education. There is also an obligation on the part of a child to pursue available scholarships and jobs to help defray the cost of education.
When ordering child support, the Family Court has the discretion to order the payment to be directly made between the parents, or through the Family Court’s Clerk Office. If ordered through the Family Court’s Clerk’s Office, the paying parent must also pay the Court’s service fee, which is currently 5%. If paid through the Court, the clerk will automatically monitor and enforce any non-payment of child support.