Child Support South Carolina

Child Support SC

South Carolina child support guidelines was created using the Shares Model. The Shares Model was developed by the Child Support Guidelines Project of the National Center for State Courts. The Shares Model includes research into the economic expenses of raising a child and applies a concept that a child should receive the same proportion of parental income that they would receive if the parents lived together.

As soon as the court determines the custody arrangements, child support in South Carolina can be calculated. The court will determine how much child support will be paid if any, and to whom it will be paid. The Department of Social Services provides a calculator on their website to assist in estimating the amount of SC child support that may be ordered.

SC Child Support Factors:

South Carolina child support is awarded based on the following factors:

  • Income of each parent
  • Type of Custody ordered
  • Number of children the support covers
  • Number of other children each parent is supporting
  • Any alimony obligations to prior spouses either parent is required to pay
  • Number of other children being supported by each parent
  • Other factors that justify a judge modifying the calculated amount of child support

How Custody Arrangments Impact Child Support in South Carolina: 

There are different types of custody arrangements. The parents may agree to custody on their own or through the help of a mediator. If they are unable to reach an agreement, the court will decide for them. Sole, shared, and split custody are the most common. Nesting is a modified form of shared custody that some parents are adopting.

  • Sole
  • Shared (If shared, number of nights each parent has the child each year)
  • Split
  • Nesting

The chart below illustrates how the amount of child support in South Carolina varies based on how many nights per year a child is with a specific parent. Sole custody results in higher child support in many cases. When the lesser earning parent has the children most of the nights, shared custody can result in a substantial increase in the South Carolina child support awarded.

child support SC table

A professional Family Law attorney can help you estimate the amount of support you would receive or pay under various arrangements before you submit a Parenting Plan.

Parents who share custody keep track of whether each parent has the child the number of nights the agreement is based upon. The judge may or may not approve a parenting plan as submitted. The judge has some leeway in the amount of SC child support ordered.

Calculating the Amount of Child Support

The amount of SC child support awarded can be determined in a number of different ways including:

• Negotiated by the parents and approved by the court

• A form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) such as binding or non-binding mediation or arbitration

• The Family Law Court decides the amount using a calculator that follows guidelines outlined in SC § 43-5-580(b) or a modified amount due to factors the calculator does not take into consideration.

Child Support: Health Care Expenses and Insurance

The court can order one or both parents to provide health insurance for the child. The parent with access, at a reasonable cost, to the most comprehensive coverage should provide coverage. The cost of the child’s insurance is determined by subtracting the cost of coverage for self only coverage from the premium for the coverage. That amount will be a credit against the child support obligation if the premium is paid by the supporting spouse. If the premium is paid by the spouse receiving support, the amount of support will be increased.

The Shares Model assumes the parent to whom support is owed will be responsible for up to $250.00 per year (per child) of uninsured medical expenses including co-pays, over-the-counter medicines, and similar expenses. Reasonable and necessary uninsured medical expenses in excess of the $250.00 per year shall be divided in pro rata percentages based on the proportional share of the parents.

If the parents do not agree on reasonable and necessary expenses, such as orthodontia and professional counseling, the court will make a determination.

Non-Guideline SC Child Support:

When guideline child support would not be appropriate the judge can set child support in South Carolina.  When the court varies significantly from the guideline calculated amount it must specify the facts that led to the court’s decision. Variations in the calculated amount may be made as the result of the following factors because the calculator does not take them into consideration:

  • Educational expenses for the child or children or the spouse, including those incurred for private, parochial, or trade schools, or other secondary schools, or post-secondary education where there is tuition or related costs.
  • Equitable distribution of property
  • Consumer debts
  • Families with more than six children
  • Unreimbursed extraordinary medical or dental expenses for the noncustodial or custodial parent
  • Mandatory deduction of retirement pensions and union fees
  • Support obligations for other dependents living with the noncustodial parent or non-court ordered child support from another relationship
  • Child-related unreimbursed extraordinary medical expenses
  • Monthly fixed payments imposed by a court or operation of law
  • When the child has a significant available income of their own
  • Substantial parity of income in which the noncustodial parent’s income is significantly less than the custodial parent’s income, thus making it financially impractical to pay what the guidelines indicate the noncustodial parent should pay
  • Alimony; because of their unique nature, lump sum, rehabilitative, reimbursement, or other alimony that the court may award, may be considered by the court as a possible reason for deviation from these guidelines
  • Agreements reached between parties; the court may deviate from the guidelines based on an agreement between the parties if both parties are represented by counsel. Alternatively, if upon a thorough examination of any party not represented by counsel, the court determines the party fully understands the agreement as to child support. The court still has the discretion and the independent duty to determine if the amount is reasonable and in the best interest of the child.

What does Child Support Cover for Children?

Under the Shares Model, child support in South Carolina should cover far more than the basics if the parents’ income would normally provide more than the basics.


  • Shelter
  • Food, including food consumed at home and away from home
  • Clothing
  • School fees
  • Transportation (not related to visitation)
  • Utilities
  • Household goods (appliances, linens, floor coverings, and housewares)
  • Recreation including entertainment
  • Ordinary health care
  • Extracurricular activities


The monthly amount does not include expenditures for child care. An additional amount to pay a portion of child care expenses (up to 100%) may be awarded. SC child support is not intended or calculated to cover gifts or savings. In some states, the court will award payment for college expenses, even after the child reaches age 18.

SC Child Support: What “Income” Counts in the Calculation?

Income Included in Gross Income: 

  • The actual gross income of the parent if the parent is employed to his or her full earning capacity
  • If the parent is unemployed or underemployed, the parent’s potential income is used
    • When a parent is voluntarily unemployed, or underemployed, the court can impute potential income based on the parent’s recent work history, occupational qualifications, and prevailing job opportunities and earning levels in the community.
    • If a parent does not work to care for young or handicapped children, potential income may not be included
    • Rehabilitative alimony may be used to help an unemployed or underemployed parent achieve their potential earning capacity
  • Gross income includes:
    • Salaries
    • Wages
    • Commissions
    • Royalties
    • Bonuses
    • Rents (net)
    • Dividends
    • Severance pay
    • Pensions
    • Interest
    • Trust income
    • Annuity income
    • Capital gains
    • Social Security benefits (not SSI Income)
    • Workers’ compensation benefits
    • Unemployment insurance benefits
    • Veterans’ benefits
    • Alimony
    • Imputed income of non-income earning assets

    For example, a family vacation home that could be rented out when the family is not using it but is not being used in that way has a “reasonable earning potential.”

Exclusions from Gross Income: 

  • Benefits from means-tested public assistance programs
  • Income of other household members
  • In-kind income unless they reduce the parents’ living expenses (i.e. a company car, free housing, or reimbursed meals)


If you do not pay your child support, SC child support enforcement will take you to court. You could be held in contempt, jailed, or even lose certain licenses. If you cannot make your payments, talk with an attorney.