What is not considered “Gross Income” when calculating child support in South Carolina?

In determining child support “gross income” does not include:

  1. Benefits received from Means – Tested Public Assistance Programs, such as temporary assistance to needy families (TANF), Supplemental Security income (SSI), food stamps and general assistance;
  2. Income derived by other household members; and/or
  3. In-kind income; however, the court should count as income expense reimbursements as in-kind payments received by a parent from self-employment or operation of the business if they are significant and reduce personal living expenses, such as a company car or reimbursement of meals.

-Source The South Carolina Child Support Guidelines

Rhett Burney
Attorney at Law

Can the court consider account assets or other assets in determining child support?

The court can look at any asset which is available and which can potentially generate income for child support. The South Carolina Child Support Guidelines gives this example: the court may determine the reasonable earning potential of any asset at its fair market value and assess against it the current treasury bill interest-rate or some other similar appropriate method of computing income. In other words. If someone has $100,000.00 in a bank account earning .001% interest, the court could impute the current treasury bill interest-rate to the $100,000 for the determining child support. The court can also look at an asset, such as a vacation home or idle land which is not being rented, and include such potential income for that property as well.

Rhett Burney
Attorney at Law

Does the family court in South Carolina use a person’s net or gross income in determining child support?

The court uses gross income in determining child support. However, the court should consider whether a parent is employed to full capacity, or the potential income of the party if they are unemployed or underemployed. According to the South Carolina Child Support Guidelines, “gross income” includes income from any source including salaries, wages, commissions, royalties, bonuses, rents (less allowable business expenses), dividends, severance pay, pensions, interest, trust income, annuities, capital gains, Social Security benefits (but not Supplemental Social Security income), workers compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, veterans benefits and alimony, including alimony received as a result of another marriage and alimony which a party receives as a result of the current litigation.

-Source The South Carolina Child Support Guidelines

Rhett Burney
Attorney at Law

What Are Some Reasons for Deviating from the South Carolina Child Support Guidelines?

The child support guidelines do not take into account the economic impact of the following factors which can be possible reasons for deviation.

  1. Educational expenses for the children or the parent (i.e., those incurred for private, parochial, or trade schools, other secondary schools, post secondary education where there is tuition a related cost);
  2. Equitable distribution of property;
  3. Consumer debts;
  4. Families with more than six children;
  5. Unreimbursed extraordinary medical/dental expenses for the parent, or extraordinary travel expenses for court ordered visitation;
  6. Mandatory deduction of retirement pensions and union fees;
  7. Child related unreimbursed extraordinary medical expenses;
  8. Monthly fixed payments imposed by court or operation of law;
  9. Significant available income of the children (i.e. the Olson Twins or Justin Bieber);
  10. Substantial disparity of the parent’s income;
  11. Alimony;
  12. Agreements reached by the parties if both parents are represented by a lawyer or if, not represented by counsel, the court determines a party fully understands the agreement as to child support.

The court still has the discretion and independent duty to determine if the amount is reasonable and in the best interest of the child(ren).

-Source The South Carolina Child Support Guidelines

Remember that deviation from the South Child Support Guidelines is the exception rather than the rule.

Rhett Burney
Attorney at Law

When does the Family Court not follow the South Carolina Child Support Guidelines?

A family court judge can deviate from the South Carolina Child Support Guidelines; however, if the judge decides the application of the guidelines is inappropriate, the court must make specific written findings as to why it didn’t follow the guidelines.

The court can deviate from the guidelines when:

-The combined monthly gross income of both parents is less than $750 per month  In this case the court will usually not order less than $100 per month in child support, but the court should attempt not to put the paying parent into a position of not being able to live at a minimum level of subsistence.

-The combined monthly gross income of the parties is $360,000 a year or $30,000 a month.

*Remember that a deviation from the South Child Support Guidelines is an exception and not the rule.

-Source The South Carolina Child Support Guidelines

Rhett Burney
Attorney at Law

How is Child Support Determined?

Generally, the court looks at both parties’ gross income and plugs the amuonts into the South Carolina Child Support Calculator (click here for calculator or go to http://www.state.sc.us/dss/csed/calculator.htm) along with the cost of health insurance for the child(ren), daycare costs, alimony (if any), the number of nights the child(ren) is/are with each parent, and any extraordinary medical expenses for the child(ren).  Judges usually use the amount that the calculator determines; however, a judge can take other factors into consideration when determining support as well.  These other factors are listed in the South Carolina Child Support Guidelines.  I’ll discuss these factors in upcoming posts.

Rhett Burney
Attorney at Law