How does South Carolina determine child support?

When parents divorce, both individuals remain responsible for providing final support to any minor children they share. In South Carolina, the Department of Social Services determines and enforces child support payments. 

Learn how the state determines the amount of monthly child support and the process to seek services. 

Factors in monthly child support 

The South Carolina Child Support Guidelines provide a starting point for the family to negotiate a fair support amount. The state relies on the income shares model, which helps ensure that the child receives the same percentage of support income from each parent as he or she would if the parents remained married. 

The guidelines recommend that judges order monthly support based on the average cost of raising a child in South Carolina in several categories, including: 

  • Food away from home, such as restaurant meals and school lunches, as well as at home 
  • Mortgage interest or rent payments 
  • Household furniture and supplies 
  • Utilities 
  • Clothing 
  • Health care 
  • Transportation, such as the cost of gas for transport to and from school 

The judge will also consider the amount the parents pay for child care. 

Establishing a legal support order 

The custodial parent can apply for support online or at a regional child support office. Once the agency receives your application, it will schedule a conference that both parents must attend. At this session, an agent with the Child Support Services Division will help you and the child’s other parent come to an agreement based on your financial information, the support guidelines and the circumstances of your case. If the parents cannot agree on a fair amount at this session, they must go before a judge and have a CSSD hearing. 

Once CSSD makes a child support order, the noncustodial parent can face legal consequences for failure to pay. Either parent can request a change in the child support order if life circumstances have significantly changed since the first order.