Like most other jurisdictions, South Carolina is an income share state. Each child support calculation includes a number of different factors, such as the income of both parties, childrens’ expense needs, and the parenting time division. Since these factors usually change frequently, most people file motions to modify child support at least once every few years.
Whether you need to increase or decrease the obligation, it’s important to quickly meet with a Greenville family law attorney. Generally, child support reductions are not retroactive. Every month that goes by, the obligor pays extra money that cannot be recovered. And, if you need a child support increase, you need that money now, not in two or three months.
Daycare costs and healthcare expenses are usually two of the most significant childhood expenses. Typically, the South Carolina child support guidelines take these figures into account. So, when they change, an altered child support payment is usually appropriate.
But for the most part, expense-based modifications are difficult to obtain. For example, expense-based changes are often anticipated. Children get older and their needs change accordingly. More on this concept below.
Also, there is often a difference between the child’s needs and the child’s wishes or the parent’s needs. Affordable after-school care at a local YMCA might be almost as good as the pricey learning center across town.
Expense changes must also be significant. Annual private school tuition increases probably do not merit modifications. But if tuition suddenly doubles, that’s a different story.
Generally, income changes are the most common modification basis. Most people change jobs frequently, and even if they stay put, their pay often changes every year. However, not all income changes qualify. The higher or lower income must be:
- Substantial: As a rule of thumb, a 10 percent income change is usually substantial for child support purposes.
- Permanent: This issues often arises if the party is self-employed. Short term income spikes or income drops are rather common. So, moving parties must normally show a pattern of increase or decrease which lasts at least several months.
- Involuntary: Obligors (people paying support) cannot quit their jobs in order to reduce their child support obligations. Similarly, retirement does not automatically reduce a child or spousal support obligation.
To establish the other party’s income change, look for lifestyle adjustments, such as a new car or more frequent dining out. On a similar note, to establish a voluntary income reduction, look for social media and other posts complaining about child support or child care costs.
Sometimes, parenting time changes are informal and they occur over time. Perhaps Susie starts spending a couple of nights a week at Dad’s house, or her after-school afternoons at Mom’s house might last until nearly bedtime. These pattern changes could affect the child support allotment.
The same thing is true for emotional changes which occur formally and quickly. For example, if the traditional every other weekend and every other holiday arrangement is not working, many parents try a model that more equally divides parenting time, such as extended weekends or block scheduling.
Either financial or emotional changes could merit a child support alteration. For a confidential consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Greenville, contact the Briggs Law Firm. Convenient payment plans are available.
Sam Briggs embraces the challenge and stimulation of practicing, with the satisfaction of advocating for our clients to the best of our abilities. Alongside his father Larry, Sam Briggs has created a family and personal injury firm that focuses on creating and maintaining a close working relationship with their clients. The Briggs Law Firm lawyers will ensure that you are always diligently represented and look forward to zealously advocating on your behalf.