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July 15, 2016

What You Need to Know About Obtaining and Enforcing a Child Support Order

Greenville South Carolina family lawyer

For single parents and those who have undergone a divorce or separation, child support is vitally important to providing your child with the material goods and experiences they need to grow and flourish. Unfortunately, obtaining an order for child support and making sure that order is enforced can be a difficult and time consuming process. Without the proper legal representation, your order could potentially award less than what your child needs or is entitled to, while it often takes an experienced family law attorney to ensure any child support payments you are owed are made in a timely manner. At the Lauren Taylor Law, our experienced child custody attorney acts as your legal advocate, protecting you and your child’s rights, and helping to ensure you get the financial support you need.  

Obtaining Child Support In South Carolina

According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau figures, more than 25 percent of children in the United States lived in homes with only one parent. Of these homes, roughly half had either formal or informal agreements in place pertaining to child support, and this child support income provided more than three quarters of the total gross income for families living at or below the poverty line. For busy parents struggling to juggle the demands of their children while still maintaining their home, job, and extended family responsibilities, child support can be a lifeline to ensuring the various costs associated with raising a child are met.

While some parents rely on informal arrangements in which both parties agree on both a set amount of child support as well as the timeframe under which the support should be paid, failing to have this order approved through the courts could result in your child receiving less than they deserve, while giving you no legal recourse if they child support is not paid. An order for child support can be obtained by filing the appropriate documents through your local family court. A hearing will be scheduled, and the judge in your case will designate an amount based on information provided by both parties.   

Consideration In Ordering Child Support

Under South Carolina Child Support Guidelines, child support is intended to help cover expenses such as food, clothing, and shelter, as well as items such as household furnishing the child requires, transportation costs, basic health care costs, and recreational expenses. Consideration for ordering support from a non-custodial parent under these guidelines includes the following:

  • The parent’s income;
  • The potential income the parent would receive from working, if they are unemployed;
  • The needs of children from other marriages or relationships who reside in the home;
  • The amount the parent needs to provide for their own support;
  • Any health insurance that is provided by the parent; and
  • Any daycare needs the child in question has.

In addition to what is included within the guidelines, other factors the court may consider include education expenses the child has from private or parochial schools, any extraordinary medical or dental expenses the child has, and any substantial disparity between each individual parent’s income.

Making Sure Your Child Support Order Is Enforced

While a judge may order a non-custodial parent to pay a certain amount of monthly child support, that alone is not always enough to compel that parent to pay. Fortunately, there are legal remedies available to enforce a child support, while ensuring any back support is accounted for and eventually dealt with. Under Section 63-17-310 of the South Carolina Children’s Code, the court has the authority to enforce child support orders, including those that were issued in other jurisdictions. Through their attorney, the parent receiving support may submit a sworn statement explaining the amount of support order and the amount that remains unpaid. Your attorney will request a hearing at which the following events may occur:

  • The noncustodial parent may decide not to appear at the hearing. If they do not appear, a ruling may be made in their absence, they can be charged with contempt of court, and an arrest warrant could be issued.
  • The non-custodial parent may appear and offer a defense as to why the amount of child support was not paid. The judge may accept their defense and allow payment arrangement to ensure any past due amounts are paid, or the judge may require them to pay the total amount of the past due support by a certain date. If the non-custodial actions refuse to comply, a warrant for their arrest will be issued.

If repeated attempts to obtain payment of child support do not yield results, they may face wage garnishment, as well as seizures of money in bank accounts and liens on their property.

Getting Your Child Support Order Modified

In addition to obtaining or enforcing an order, certain circumstances may come up which may require a modification of your order. Under Section 63-17-310 of SC Code, modifications can be made through your attorney based on changed circumstances, such as a changes in income, changes in circumstances and living situations, and changes in expenses, such as additional education, recreational, or healthcare related expenses. Children up until the age of 18 are covered under child support, and even parents of college age children may be eligible for support, if the non-custodial parent has the means and the custodial parent can show evidence of special needs and circumstances, such as being an exemplary student yet being unable to attend a college or university without the additional support.

Contact Our Experienced South Carolina Family Law Attorney

If you are not receiving child support or suspect you are not receiving the amount you are entitled to, contact our experienced South Carolina family law attorney today.  At the Lauren Taylor Law, we have the knowledge, training, and skills to protect your rights and interests, uncovering hidden sources of income or assets the other parent may be hiding to avoid paying the proper amount of support. We can assist you in obtaining an order for the amount of support your child needs, while helping you enforce that order through a variety of legal channels. Serving Greenville and the Upstate area, call or contact our office online today to see how we can help you.     

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