Knowledge And Experience Are What Matter
Helping Families Provide And Care for Their Children
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 in South Carolina, including cases where it is difficult to calculate parental income or 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.
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
- Extraordinary expenses of a parent or child
A Comprehensive Child Support Practice
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, unless: (1) the child becomes emancipated sooner, (2) the parents agree to continue providing support, or (3) special circumstances exist that require parents to continue providing support for their children. The family court can also order the continuation of child support beyond the age of 18 if the child is still attending high school.
Custody Matters Deserve Serious Attention
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 Charleston, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, and throughout the Tri-County area and the rest of the low country, to create custody agreements and visitation schedules that provide parents and children with a sense of security and peace.
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 regarding issues involving 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.
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:
- The fitness of the parents (including substance abuse or domestic violence)
- Who is the primary caretaker of the child
- Education and parenting skills of each parent
- Each parent’s conduct (immoral or illegal)
- Opinions of experts and other relevant professionals
- The child’s preference
- The age, health and sex of the child
- Quality of educational opportunities
- Religious beliefs
- Expressed desire to relocate if awarded custody
- Attributes, resources and attitudes of each parent (including financial and physical resources, free time to spend with the child, access to friends and relatives, availability of child care, religious training, character, judgment, and attitude toward the other parent)
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.