Generally, child support in South Carolina ends when the child turns 18, graduates from high school, or is otherwise emancipated. But it's not always that simple. For example, if the child is still in high school when he or she turns 18, the child support obligation continues until the child graduates or turns 19. The child support obligation may also be extended based on the specific terms of the divorce decree, and you may need to file a motion with the court to terminate your child support obligation.
When does a child's child support obligation end in South Carolina before age 18?. At this age, a child is no longer a minor and can make certain legal decisions on his or her own. However, there are cases in which a child before reaching the age of 18. When the child is emancipated from the age of 18. In such cases, child support no longer needs to be paid.
Some ways in which a child can be granted a loan before reaching the age of 18. The child can be emancipated before the age of 18:
- Marriage: In South Carolina, a person can marry at age 16 if they have permission from at least one parent or guardian.
- Joining the military: Those who turn 18 can join the military themselves, but they can also join at age 17 if their parents agree.
- Moving out: Some children under 18 move out of their parents' home and support themselves.
Essentially, a child is emancipated when his or her parents no longer have to provide him or her with food, clothing, shelter, education and health care. If this happens before the child turns 18, the obligation to pay child support may end, although the parent paying support may have to file a termination action with the court, depending on how support is paid.
When can child support be extended beyond age 18?
At the other end of the spectrum, there are many cases where child support does not end when the child reaches the age of majority. We have already discussed the scenario in which a child does not graduate from high school until age 19.
Here are some other instances when the obligation to pay child support may continue beyond age 18:
- Child goes off to college: divorce decree may agree that child support payments continue beyond age 18. The child's tuition can be continued beyond the age of 18 as long as the child is in college, vocational school or some other type of post-secondary education. In this regard, it should be noted that under certain circumstances, South Carolina courts may require parents to contribute to the child's tuition and other college education costs.
- The child has a disability: courts often extend a parent's obligation to pay child support beyond the age of majority when a child is disabled or has special needs.
Look closely at your divorce decree to find out if you can expect to pay or receive child support after your child turns 18 years old. Otherwise, the paying parent's obligation ends unless the dependent parent or supported child petitions the court for a child support modification.
If you owe back child support, you should not expect it to be forgiven or forgotten when your child turns 18. Even if you no longer have to pay child support in the future, you still owe the receiving parent the amount that accrued before the child reached the age of majority.
When do you have to apply to the court for termination of alimony payments?
When child support is paid directly by one parent to the other, the paying parent can stop making payments when his or her obligation ends. If this situation applies to you, you should not stop payments too soon. Also note that if you are paying child support for other minor children, you still have an obligation for those children. What is written in the divorce decree is equivalent to a court order and must be followed if you do not want to get into legal trouble.
If you pay child support through the court or clerk's office, you may need to petition the court to end your payment obligation.If the emancipated child is your only or youngest child, you can present the birth certificate and high school diploma to many offices to prove that the child is emancipated and your child support account should be closed. However, if you have other minor children for whom you are paying child support, even if the child support for the adult child is scheduled to expire, you must file a petition with the court to reduce your child support based on that fact. It's not so easy to just cut your payments in half or divide by another percentage. If you do so without filing an action for modification, the clerk's office will show a child support arrearage on your account.
If your child support was originally assessed by Social Services, they can review your obligation every 3 years. If the end of this period coincides with the year one of your children comes of age, you can contact DSS to review your account and make the necessary adjustments to your child support obligation.
The court does not have the resources to track when child support obligations expire, and it is your job to make it aware of that fact. This is especially important if part of your salary is withheld to pay child support. Otherwise, that amount will continue to be deducted from your pay until you do something about it.
Maintenance for college-age students
Child support usually ends when a child turns 18 or graduates from high school. Parents themselves can agree on how to help their son or daughter with college costs. If they don't, both parents may be able to petition the court for a contribution toward post-secondary education costs under certain circumstances.
The factors the family court may consider in such a motion are whether 1) the child's characteristics indicate that she would benefit from college, 2) the child has demonstrated the ability to achieve at least satisfactory grades, 3) the child would not otherwise be able to attend school, and 4) the other parent is financially able to contribute to the cost of such an education. In determining whether the child could otherwise attend school, the court will consider the availability of scholarships and loans for the child and the child's ability to earn income during the school year or vacations. The latter factors must be considered because the court believes that the child has a duty to minimize his or her college expenses before seeking financial support from the parents in court. Hughes v. Hughes, 280 S.C. 388, 390-391 (Ct. App. 1984).
Child support for disabled adult children
Under S.C. Code Ann. §63-3-530(17) gives the court discretion to award child support for children with a significant physical or mental disability beyond age 18. It may also order an extended payment of child support in other exceptional circumstances. South Carolina differs from some states that have an age limit of 21 for child support payments to disabled young adults. South Carolina courts may order payment as long as physical or mental disability or exceptional circumstances continue. This is especially true if the state believes it is in the best interest of the young adult to remain in his or her home environment.
Need help with alimony payments in South Carolina? Contact the Cate Law Firm
Child support obligations usually end when a child turns 18, but that's not always the case. If you're not sure when child support will end in your case, or if you need to petition the court for a modification, it's best to work with an experienced family law attorney. The stakes are high in such cases, and a capable and knowledgeable attorney can ensure that your interests and your child's interests are protected.
The Cate Law Firm has decades of experience helping clients in South Carolina with child support issues and all other types of family matters. We practice exclusively in family law and have in-depth knowledge of the legal process and what needs to be done to obtain favorable results for our clients.
To schedule a consultation with an attorney, call us today at 864-251-5855. You can also send us a message online or stop by our Spartanburg office in person.
Cate & Brough, P.A.
At Cate & Brough, we all have personal experience with family law and family court. We know more than what the law says about your problem – we know what you're going through.