Knowledge And Experience Are What Matter
A Firm Well-Versed In South Carolina Family Law Matters Involving Children
More About Child Support Calculations
The South Carolina Child Support Guidelines govern the calculation of the majority of child support obligations in the state. At Ballinger Law Firm, we are well-versed in handling all legal issues related to child support for those in Mount Pleasant and Charleston, South Carolina, as well as, Berkeley and Dorchester Counties, this experience includes cases where income exceeds the Child Support Guidelines, and where it is otherwise difficult to calculate parental income or determine appropriate support obligations.
We counsel and advocate for clients in issues related to initial calculation, failure to pay, and modifications and/or enforcement of existing child support orders. We represent clients both initiating and defending against child support actions.
Deviating From The Guidelines Due To Extenuating Circumstances
Extenuating circumstances may exist that allow deviation from the Guidelines. However, deviation from the Guidelines should be the exception and not the rule. Possible grounds for deviation include:
- Consumer debts
- Educational expenses for the child or parent
- Cases where a parent’s income exceeds the amount contemplated by the Guidelines
- Substantial disparity of income between the parents
- Unreimbursed extraordinary medical or dental expenses for either parent
- Extraordinary travel expenses for court-ordered visitation
Support Requirements After A Child Turns 18
Under South Carolina law, parents are obligated to provide “reasonable support” for their children. This support usually terminates when the child reaches 18 years of age or graduates from high school, whichever is later, unless:
- The child becomes emancipated sooner.
- The parents agree to continue providing support.
- Special circumstances exist that require parents to continue providing support for their children.
Extensive Negotiation And Mediation Experience
In many divorces, child custody and parenting time issues are the most heated and emotional topics for the parties involved. Ballinger Law Firm takes a balanced, calm approach to difficult child custody issues. We use negotiation, mediation and litigation to help clients in Mount Pleasant and Charleston, South Carolina, and throughout the Tri-County area and the rest of the Lowcountry create custody agreements and visitation schedules that provide parents and children with a sense of security and peace.
Understanding Legal Custody Vs. Physical Custody
In South Carolina, child custody is generally broken down into two types:
- Physical custody refers to the time actually spent with each parent.
- Legal custody generally refers to decision-making power authority regarding the medical care, religion, education, extracurricular activities and general upbringing of the child.
Types Of Visitation
It is possible to arrange a custody plan that involves any combination of physical and legal custody. For example, parents often share joint legal custody, while one parent has primary physical custody and the other has ample visitation (also known as “parenting time”). A visitation schedule can be as specific as the parties desire and can detail where the child spends weekends and holidays, and how the child will be transported from one parent to the other.
Determining Custody Based On The Best Interests Of The Child
South Carolina courts determine custody based upon the “best interests of the child” standard. In most families, both parents want what is in the best interests of their child, but a definition of those best interests may differ from one parent to the other. Factors a court may consider in determining the best interests of the child between biological parents include but are not limited to:
- The fitness of the parents (including substance abuse or domestic violence)
- Education and parenting skills of each parent
- Each parent’s conduct (immoral or illegal)
- Opinions of experts and other relevant professionals
- The age, health and sex of the child
- Quality of educational opportunities
Neither parent is favored by the court when determining the best interests of the child. We help both mothers and fathers obtain custody of their children.