Each state has their laws on child custody and child support. While many of the laws will overlap in similarity, they can also be very different. It is important for anyone paying child support to know what is required in their state so they do not face any penalty or punishment for late payments.
Who Needs to Pay Child Support?
A non-custodial parent has a financial duty his child. Although your child is not in your home, you must take care of the needs the child would have living in your household. The court decides child support based on the income of both parents, but the parent without custody is the one who pays. Some parents share equal or partial custody with the other parent. If you have shared custody, you may still have to pay if you have the higher income.
How Do You Petition for Child Support?
Each parent is responsible for taking care of their child financially. The law presumes that married parents who live together provide equal support, custody, and care of the child. However, when parents separate or divorce, the court may give physical custody to one parent with the child living there all or most of the time. The non-custodial parent must still provide financial support for the child. If you have physical custody of your child you may file to get child support from the other parent. To start the process, you can:
- File a claim with the South Carolina Family Court; or
- File an application with the South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) to file a lawsuit for you.
After filing for child support, both parents must give the court or DSS agency personal information, including:
- residence address;
- mailing address;
- name, address, and telephone number of employer;
- telephone number;
- driver's license number; and
- social security number.
If paternity is in question, the court may order a DNA test to establish who the father is. Both parents also can agree, in writing and without a test, that the man involved in the child support case is the father.
The final step of the child support process is to decide the amount of the payments. The parents may agree to a child support amount and give it to the judge for approval. If the parents do not agree on an amount, the court sets amount based on the state child support guidelines, including:
- How much each parent earns;
- How many children the parents have; and
- How much time each parent has custody of the child.
What If You Don't Pay Child Support?
Child support orders require that paying parents always make their payments on time. South Carolina law allows a judge to issue a warrant for your arrest if you do not obey your child support court order. You must stay in jail until you meet your child support obligation or the court comes to a settlement about your child support violation. You also may face one or more additional legal consequences from the court or DSS agency, such as:
- Taking money from your paycheck
- Fines; and
What Recourse can the Other Parent Have if You Don't Pay for Support?
A child support order requires the paying parent to make set payments. If the paying parent does not pay, the other parent has the right to go to court to get their owed money. You can go to family court or through the DSS agency and file a case with the court. The judge and agency have the legal tools to enforce the child support order so that you can get your unpaid payments.
How Can You Stop Paying Child Support?
A judge is the only person who can put child support orders into legal effect. Therefore, when circumstances occur where child support should end, you must go to court and have a judge legally stop your child support payments. If you stop making payments on your own, you may end up in jail. Reasons that a judge may end a child support order are:
- Child reaches 18 or graduates from high school, whichever happens last’
- A court emancipates the child;
- The child dies; or
- You lose your job.
Where Can You Find the Right Lawyer?
If you need help with petitioning or modifying a child support order, then contact a South Carolina family lawyer to today to help understand your child support right and obligations.