South Carolina Child Support Calculator


Court may increase support if combined income is more than $40,000.

Not in South Carolina? Use your location's child support calculator.

Courts often use wrong parenting time estimates when calculating child support, which could make your child support either too high or too low.

Custody X Change calculates parenting time accurately, so your child support will have the fairest outcome for your kids.

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Child support payments are made by one co-parent to the other, ensuring that you both contribute fairly to meet your child's needs.

A judge determines your child support amount using a formula as a guideline.

If you want the judge to order a different amount than what the formula recommends, you must give a compelling reason — even if the other parent agrees to the proposed amount. The amount you propose must serve your child's best interests.

In South Carolina, child support is collected and enforced by the Child Support Services Division of the Department of Social Services (DSS).

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The basics of calculating child support

South Carolina's formula considers:

  • How many eligible children you have: This is the number of children this support order will cover.
  • The number of overnights: Calculate your number of overnights. If each of you has the child for at least 110 overnights a year (30 percent), you have shared physical custody, and your number of nights will affect the support order.
  • Incomes: You must each indicate how much you earn (but ignore a new spouse's income). Your assets may also be considered. TANF, food stamps and SSI aren't considered, but other public benefits may be.
  • Expenses: The court considers who pays for the child's health insurance, dental insurance and child care, as well as who claims the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. List what you pay for any other children who aren't part of this support order, excluding stepchildren.

Each of you must fill out a Financial Declaration and get it notarized. Provide supporting documentation (like pay stubs).

The court uses the information you provide to decide on a support amount according to the South Carolina Child Support Guidelines.

How to estimate the payment

To quickly estimate the child support you'll pay or receive, use the calculator at the top of this page.

For a more precise estimation, use the South Carolina DSS child support calculator.

When a different amount may be ordered

A child support obligation shouldn't leave the noncustodial parent unable to support themself. They'll be allowed to keep at least $1,010.50 each month to live on; this is called a self-support reserve.

A judge might be personally inclined to approve any amount to which you and your co-parent agree. Come prepared to justify your agreement:

  • Bring the numbers.
  • Show that the agreement is in your child's best interests.
  • Demonstrate that both of you understand what you're agreeing to.

For example, if you want to agree to no child support, you could highlight your equal parenting time and similar incomes. You might also point out a detail of your agreement that makes an effort toward financial fairness, e.g., who pays for the child's transportation.

The guidelines give calculations for combined gross incomes from $750 to $40,000 per month. If both parents' incomes together fall outside that range, the judge will make a personalized decision.

How to seek child support

There are two ways to get child support: through a court order or an administrative order.

Apply for custody through family court (court order)

A divorce or child custody case is the most common way to get child support.

Usually, less than a month after filing a case, both parents attend a temporary hearing where the judge orders temporary support. Here, the judge can issue temporary orders for other parenting issues too.

Eventually, after you settle or have your trial, you'll get permanent orders. Your support amount could change at that time.

Apply for support through DSS (administrative order)

You can also apply for child support independently of any court case.

If you have physical custody and receive TANF (public assistance), DSS will start the case for you. Otherwise, submit the Custodial Parent's Application for Child Support Services to DSS. There's also a Non-Custodial Parent's Application for Child Support Services.

DSS can help establish paternity, and they'll pay for necessary genetic tests. Either parent can request these services. DSS can also help locate a missing noncustodial parent.

If you and your co-parent both live in South Carolina, DSS will schedule a negotiation conference or hearing. It's usually held within the first three months of your case. You should both attend the conference and try to agree, because:

  • If you reach an agreement, DSS will write it up as an order and ask a Family Court judge to sign it.
  • If you don't reach agreement, DSS will ask the judge to decide.
  • If the noncustodial parent fails to attend, DSS will write up a default order based on the guidelines and ask a judge to sign it.

If one of you lives out of state, your process may take longer. The other state may hold its own hearing. If you're a custodial parent in South Carolina, you may decide it's in the interest of you and your child to attend the noncustodial parent's hearing in another state (if any). However, South Carolina doesn't require you to go.

How child support is paid

Whether your case has gone through the courts or through DSS, there are two ways for the noncustodial parent to pay support:

  • Directly to the other parent
  • To the State Disbursement Unit (a DSS agency)

Often, the judge or DSS orders child support to be withheld from the payer's income. The employer must comply immediately. Sometimes you're ordered to pay support a different way, and you won't have income withholding unless you miss payments.

You have to follow your child support order. South Carolina strictly enforces payment. If you're having difficulty, talk to the court or DSS. They may begin drawing the money from your unemployment benefits or your tax refunds. If you're judged to be in civil contempt for not paying, you can be jailed for up to a year and fined $1,500.

Receiving child support

If the custodial parent has ever received TANF (a type of public assistance), the government may take part of the support payment.

If they've never received any public assistance, they'll pay a $35 annual fee in each year they receive at least $500 in child support.

How to change a support order

Every three years, either co-parent can request a review.

You can also request a review any time you have a substantial and material change in circumstances, e.g., a new child, job or health situation.

The court may accept a Short Form Financial Declaration instead of the full-length form you originally provided.

After DSS reviews your order and changes it, you'll have to follow the new order.

When child support ends

When your child is at least 18 and is no longer attending high school, the support obligation usually ends.

How this happens depends on how you originally got your support order:

  • For court orders, it's up to the parent to ask for support to end. The noncustodial parent should ask the court for a dismissal order.
  • For administrative orders, DSS stops the support order. DSS notifies the custodial parent that the noncustodial parent's obligation is ending.

If you need help

South Carolina Legal Services lets you apply online for child support legal help.

If you need information about your child support order, look up your existing DSS case.

Calculating parenting time accurately

Estimating overnights can impact your support order by thousands of dollars a year.

Still, lawyers (and even courts) usually estimate because calculating manually is time-consuming.

Luckily, the Custody X Change app lets you quickly and accurately calculate your exact parenting time.

With Custody X Change, you'll see how your time changes each year due to holidays and other events.

Custody technology also prevents common mathematical errors, such as double-counting time.

Remember that a child support order is legally binding and must be taken seriously.

Whether you are the one paying or receiving child support, make sure your overnights count is exact. The number will affect you, your child and the other parent for years to come.

Visualize your schedule. Get a written parenting plan. Calculate your parenting time.

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