Child Support FAQs – Greenville, SC – Child Custody

Child Support Frequently Asked Questions – by Child Custody Attorney Brian P. Johnson, Esq.

1. How is child support determined?

To determine how much child support you may have to pay or be entitled to receive, first you must figure out if the visiting/secondary parent (if any) has more than 109 overnights with the child/children. This will determine whether you will utilize a standard equation or a shared equation when calculating child support. The equation itself is too difficult to spell out, but the Department of Social Service has provided a pretty accurate calculator here to do the math for you.  Notice that the DSS Calculator wants you to put in your gross income rather than your income after taxes. This is indeed how the Court’s do it. It might not be fair but that is what they do.

The Calculator does allow for a parent to receive credit for paying certain expenses such as work-related daycare, health/dental insurance premiums, and having other children in the home. The daycare expenses are typically the most contentious as they: 1) must be work-related, and 2) will increase a support calculation almost dollar for dollar.

2. Deviation from the calculation?

Many very accurately note that a child support award might be too much for the one paying and not enough for the one receiving. The Court is allowed to deviate from the amount the calculator gives if it finds that the amount would be “unjust or inappropriate,” but note that this is rare and I have never seen it.

Of course, parents can agree to a different figure and the Court generally will approve it.

3. What if I can’t pay?

Once child support is ordered the Courts are pretty strict in enforcing that it is paid. They can require that it be paid through the Court, take it out of your check through wage-withholding, or even put you in jail for nonpayment.

When they put you in jail it is generally the result of a contempt of court action. This means that you violated the Court order to pay child support. However, if you can prove that you did not “willfully” violate the Court order then the Court will not find you in contempt. So, there is a defense if you truly don’t have the money or have fallen on hard times. (BEWARE: the Court thinks its bills are more important than your bills so be careful when defending yourself by simply saying “I got bills.”)


Please remember that each case is unique. If you have any questions about child support, child custody, visitation, contempt of court, Family Court proceedings or Family Law in general, we urge you to contact us. In order to be flexible and convenient, we have open office hours, easy appointment scheduling, and payment plans available. Call today and schedule your free confidential consultation.

Our law office serves people across the Upstate, South Carolina, including: Greenville, Spartanburg, Anderson, Pickens, Laurens, and Oconee counties.