Unless you've gone through a Family Court case of your own, chances are you aren't very familiar with the process. Movies and TV shows and some occasional bits of wisdom gleaned from friends may be what inform your view of how things work. One area that might be especially confusing is that of child support. Many people believe child support is treated like alimony or property division, and can be fought over until a mutually agreeable number is decided upon. However, the reality is very different.
How is child support decided in South Carolina?
Though you may think that child support is just like all the other issues that are addressed in Family Court, the reality is that child support is somewhat unique. Child support in SC is decided by a formula, just as it is in many other states. The gross incomes of each parent and other factors, including the number of children involved, are plugged into an equation which calculates out the parties' child support responsibilities.
In South Carolina, the Department of Social Services has created a Child Support Calculator, which allows you to plug in numbers yourself and get an idea of what payments might be required in a particular case. While not 100% accurate, this calculator is based on theSouth Carolina Child Support Guidelines, the large rulebook that lays out precisely what each party is responsible for contributing.
Can the parents decide upon a child support amount themselves?
Most judges will allow the parents to amicably resolve child support, so long as they both mutually agree upon the amount to be paid. However, judges are quite mindful of the fact that child support is seen as benefiting the children, not the other party. Put a different way, noncustodial parents must contribute to the support of their children, and that obligation cannot be completely waived, even with the consent of the other parent.