How Long Can Someone Go To Jail for Not Paying Child Support?

Child support can get tricky. 

Kids are expensive, and sometimes the court-ordered amount is not possible or reasonable.

Maybe you are sending what you can, and you have just fallen behind, or perhaps you are not able to send anything because of your current situation.

Either way, it can be a scary situation.

After all, words like “wage garnishment” and “jail time” are not exactly the most encouraging.

So if you are behind on your child support payments, you might find yourself wondering, “can and how long can someone go to jail for not paying child support?”

The short answer is yes, they can!

The longer answer? It’s a little more complicated. Let’s take a look at the process. 

What Happens When I Miss a Payment?

If you know you are going to miss a child support payment, the best thing to do is tell the custodial parent before you miss it. This communication is not possible in every situation, but if it is, honesty may be the best policy. It is especially important if your missed payment is due to an injury or layoff that is keeping you from working. 

If communicating in advance is not possible, or if you do not address your delinquency beforehand, the custodial parent is within their rights to report the missed payment to South Carolina’s Division of Child Support Services or DCSS. 

Once a petition is filed and a case opened by DCSS, a judge will schedule an enforcement hearing. This hearing is your chance to explain why you have missed payments. 

When the hearing date comes, make sure you bring any supporting documentation, such as medical records, that may help explain your delinquency. In the meantime, try your best to make at least partial payments. Often, a judge will see your actions as good faith attempts to fulfill your obligations and may be lenient. 

During this hearing, if the judge finds that you have violated your child support agreement, they will find you in “contempt of court“, and penalties will apply. 

What Could the Penalty Be?

Penalties for missing child support payments vary by circumstances. Every missed payment is not a one-way ticket to the county jail. Depending on your case details, you may face:

  • Fines
  • Garnished wages or benefits
  • Interception of tax refunds, personal injury suits, or unemployment benefits
  • Loss of recreation and driving license
  • Loss of passport
  • Property liens
  • Jail time

It is unlikely that a first offense will land you behind bars. 

Often, if you have documentation and a good reason for not paying, the court may modify your support obligation until your situation changes. 

How Long Can Someone go to Jail for Not Paying Child Support?

We know the worry is still there, even if the chance of jail time is unlikely. So how long can someone go to jail for not paying child support?

Because the official charge is contempt, rather than failing to pay child support, the law in South Carolina states that you may face $1500 in fines or up to a year in jail, and sometimes both. And while this is an unlikely outcome, it is still worrisome.

If you are facing a child support or contempt hearing for failing to pay child support, give us a call. We will help you find a solution. 

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How Much is the Average Monthly South Carolina Child Support Payment?

Enduring a legal separation or divorce process in South Carolina is already difficult for everyone involved, especially children, but now the court is assigning your monthly child support payment.

The court assigns South Carolina child support according to your finances and responsibility for any children. Want to learn how much you could pay?

We have got you covered. We will discuss how the court will determine your child support payment and your estimated monthly payment. Read on to learn more.

Must-Know Basics About Child Support in South Carolina

According to the South Carolina Child Support Guidelines, either parent can request child support regardless of their responsibility for any children. Both parents must contribute to the well-being of any children.

Keep in mind that the SC court can order one or both parents to pay child support. If the parents of any children are under 18, the court may order the grandparents to pay child support.

How to Calculate Your South Carolina Child Support Payment

Calculating child support in South Carolina is not as straightforward as you may think. The court will calculate your monthly payment based on the SC Child Support guidelines. But, your payment may vary depending on your child custody arrangements.

Child support payments must cover the cost of any children’s education, medical care, childcare, among other necessary expenses. Your income and the number of children you have will influence your monthly payment as well. You may estimate your payment using a child support estimator, but the court does not only follow general guidelines.

The court will use their worksheets to determine your monthly payment. There is a different worksheet for every custody arrangement. It is recommended that you take a look at the worksheets and basic child support obligations table schedule in the South Carolina Child Support Guidelines.

Examples of South Carolina Child Support Payments

According to the US Census, the median household income in South Carolina is $5497. The South Carolina guidelines establish a basic child support obligation average between $793 to $1628. This range applies to parents of one to six children.

For example, a non-custodial parent of three children earns $3,000 a month. The custodial parent of all three children earns $1,500 per month.

If the non-custodial parent pays $250 a month to cover any children’s health insurance. The South Carolina Child Support Guidelines suggest the parent would pay about $762.67 in child support each month.

This payment may vary if the court uses Worksheet A from their guidelines to calculate the payment. This child support payment may decrease if the parents agree to a split custody arrangement.

An example of this is when Parent A holds custody of 2 of 3 children, earns $3,000 per month and pays $250 toward their health insurance. While Parent B takes care of 1 of 3 child, earns $1,500 a month, and pays $100 toward the child’s health insurance.

In this scenario Parent A would pay only $74.10 dollars per South Carolina guidelines. The court may assign a higher or lower payment if they use Worksheet B.

Bottom Line

There is not a one size fits all formula to calculate South Carolina child support. Your monthly payment may vary depending on your circumstances or custody arrangement, among other factors.

Before any child support hearing, you should hire a family law attorney who will protect your interests. Hiring the right lawyer will help you obtain the best outcome and fair child support payment.

Is your child support payment too high? You may be eligible for a modification if you or your child’s situation endured substantial changes.

Want to learn what modifications you may request? Read our article to learn more about your eligibility.

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South Carolina Child Support Laws: 5 Things You Need to Know

With divorce and children, the result is that one parent is generally going to get the child the majority of the time. And the other parent will have to pay child support.

Of course, there are scenarios where this is not the case, such as when parents get a 50-50 times-sharing split.

Let’s take a look at some of the things you should know about child support in South Carolina.

1. How is Child Support Calculated in South Carolina?

When the judge orders child support, both parent’s incomes are calculated. SC child support guidelines consist of a formula that calculates the child support payments.

This formula includes how many children there are, the monthly income of both parents, work-related child care costs, health care expenses, whether one parent has to pay alimony to the other parent or someone else, and so on.

2. Can I Deviate from the SC Child Support Guidelines?

Yes, there are circumstances when you can deviate from the child support guidelines. Not every family has the same situation so there may be factors that can reduce the non-custodial parent’s child support obligation.

For instance, if you have education expenses, consumer debts, a disparity in income, the child works, or if you have six or more children, then you may get a lower child support obligation than you might expect due to a simple formula or standard.

3. How Long Do I Have to Pay Child Support in South Carolina?

If you’re ordered to pay child support in South Carolina, then you’ll have to pay this until the child turns 18 years old. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.

For instance, you may still have to pay until your child graduates from high school. If your child is 19 and still hasn’t graduated, then you no longer have to pay child support.

Also, if your child gets emancipated before turning 18, then you no longer have child support obligations.

But if your child is disabled, then you’ll have to continue child support even after he or she turns 18 years old.

4. What Happens if I Don’t Pay Child Support in South Carolina?

If the court orders you to pay child support and you willfully refuse to, then you can be held in contempt by the court. You may also receive fines for the other party’s court and attorney’s fees.

You can also have your license suspended and passport denied. In worst case scenarios, you can even receive jail time.

5. Can I Modify Child Support in South Carolina?

Yes, either party can request the court to modify child support to either increase or decrease the obligation. There are different situations where the judge grants one.

For instance, if you lost your job and now have a lower paying job, then you can ask for a decrease. Just be sure that you don’t quit or get fired on purpose to find lower-paying work because this can backfire on you.

Also, if you end up getting a higher paying job, then the other party can ask to increase the child support amount.

Following South Carolina Child Support Laws

If you are recently divorced or are currently going through one, then you may find the South Carolina child support laws to be a bit confusing.

This is why you should seek the counsel of a family law attorney. 

Contact us now for help!

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