Responsible parenting demands that the parents of a child play an active role in the child’s upbringing, whether or not they are married and together. For several reasons, the parents may split, but their obligation to support their child remains. To ensure that this obligation is fulfilled, and the child gets the best possible quality of life, South Carolina has child support laws and agencies to enforce these laws.
Child Support Process
Child support in South Carolina is offered by the South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS). The SCDSS provides an online portal through which parents can submit applications for child support and update their information easily. On the portal, parents can also get information relating to their case, such as court hearing dates, relevant announcements, etc. Custodial parents applying for child support services can create an account on the portal via the link https://clientportal.dss.sc.gov/#/. Recipients of public aid like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) do not need to apply as they are automatically enrolled for child support services.
Alternatively, parents can obtain an application form to fill and submit for the establishment of a child support case. This form can be downloaded online from https://dss.sc.gov/media/2772/fill-and-save-cp-application.pdf or may be picked up physically at Regional Child Support Offices, County Department of Social Services Offices, and County Clerks of Court Offices. The custodial parent of a child does not need to have formal, legal custody of the child before applying for child support. So long as the child lives with the parent, an application can be submitted. Parents who apply for full services will receive help from SCDSS to locate the noncustodial parent, establish paternity, obtain the child support order, and enforce the order when necessary.
Some of the details required in the application form include the name, social security number, race, sex, residential address, phone number, etc. of both parents. The marital status of the parents can also be filled in. The information provided about the noncustodial parent may be used by the SCDSS to locate the parent. When located, a notice will be served, and the case can progress. It is important to note that while the application process is free, an annual fee of $25 is charged to the account of families that have never received TANF and who have gotten up to $500 in child support for that year.
When the noncustodial parent has been located, there may be a need to establish the child’s paternity. This is usually done by voluntary acknowledgment of the alleged father (in cases of unmarried parents). If the child’s mother was married when the child was born, her husband is legally presumed to be the child’s father. In situations where the man denies the paternity of the child, a DNA test will be scheduled. This test can indicate the likelihood of paternity or exclude the alleged father prom paternity of the child. Test costs are covered by the Child Support Services Department. If the test shows that the man is the child’s father, a court order is obtained, indicating this.
Once paternity has been established for the child, the Child Support Services Department of SCDSS can begin establishing the child support order.
How Do You Receive Child Support?
The funds in a child support case are paid to the custodial parent through the State Disbursement Unit (SDU). The SDU offers two ways for parents to receive their child support payments.
The first option is the use of a MasterCard debit card issued by the state and known as the South Carolina Way2Go Card. This card is a regular debit card to which the child support funds are loaded once they have been paid by the noncustodial parent and duly processed by the SDU. A mobile application is also available to help parents check their card balance easily. Furthermore, funds can be transferred from the card to the parent’s bank account. The Way2Go card is the default option for parents receiving child support. For details on the card, visit http://www.goprogram.com/.
The next option is the use of Direct Deposit. This is an arrangement that allows the parent to receive the funds into an existing savings or checking account that has been authorized. To set this up, the parent needs to fill an authorization/enrollment form which can be gotten from https://dss.sc.gov/media/2249/2019-11-1-sc-sdu-direct-depositdebit-card-enrollment-brochure-for-cps.pdf.
Additional information on the options available for parents to receive child support funds can be seen at https://dss.sc.gov/child-support/state-disbursement-unit/information-for-parents-receiving-support/.
Amount Receivable as Child Support
Child support calculations in South Carolina have several considerations factored into them. Some of the things considered include the parent who has custody, the number of children, the type of custody arrangement (if any), the gross income of each parent per month, alimony settlement (for divorcees), childcare costs, health insurance, additional healthcare costs, etc. Using this information, the state arrives at a reasonable amount that should be paid monthly as child support. The idea is that the money should not be too much that it causes hardship for the noncustodial parent, and at the same time it should not be too little to support the child. A copy of the child support guidelines can be found at https://dss.sc.gov/media/1585/2014-child-support-guidelines-booklet.pdf. A child support calculator is also available at https://dss.sc.gov/child-support/calculator/, however, this is for estimation purposes only.
Enforcement of Child Support
Noncustodial parents are required to pay the full amount stated in their child support order until the child is emancipated or reaches the age of 18years. If they default and refuse to make the payments as appropriate, some actions may be taken to ensure that the money is collected for disbursal. The enforcement actions include intercepting tax refunds, garnishing compensation benefits, direct income withholding, credit reporting, revoking licenses (driver’s, recreational or occupational), file contempt of court proceedings. File contempt may lead to a jail sentence for the noncustodial parent.
Further information on child support services in South Carolina can be found by visiting https://dss.sc.gov/child-support/faq/.