Child Support exists to raise the standard of living for children by enforcing their right to receive financial support from both of their parents. The child support program assists families with collecting much needed child support from parents who are not in the home.
Paternity means fatherhood. Establishing paternity means that either a court or administrative order is issued stating who the legal father is, or the mother and father voluntarily sign a paternity acknowledgment affidavit naming the father of the child. Paternity should be established if the parents of the child were not married to each other at the time the mother became pregnant or at the time of the birth of the child.
Why is it important to establish paternity?
Both parents and the child have the right to a full parent-child relationship. Both parents deserve an opportunity to develop, enjoy and grow in this relationship. The father has the right to know the child and to contribute to the success of the child's future. By establishing paternity, the father is providing the child with certain rights and privileges, which may include the following:
Voluntarily Acknowledge Of Paternity
To voluntarily acknowledge paternity, both parents must sign a paternity acknowledgment affidavit under oath acknowledging paternity. This paternity acknowledgment affidavit is available at the hospital or medical clinic immediately prior to or after the birth of the child and at the Vital Records' Office of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control or the county health department in the county where the child was born.
Applying for services
Any custodial parent who has physical custody of a child and needs assistance in obtaining child support payments may apply for services. A non-custodial parent may apply to have paternity established or to have his/her support order reviewed. Persons receiving assistance under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program automatically receive services from the CSED. Persons not receiving must complete an application form. The South Carolina Child Support charges a non-refundable $25.00 application fee. Persons receiving TANF assistance do not have to pay this fee.
As part of the 2005 Deficit Reduction Act passed by Congress, beginning October 1, 2007, all applicants who have never received public assistance (AFDC/TANF) will be charged a $25.00 fee each year after $500.00 in child support has been collected and paid out. This fee will not be charged until at least $500.00 is collected and paid out. If you have more than one eligible case, the fee will be charged on each case meeting the $500.00 threshold.
Parent Locate Service
Before a case can be scheduled for an Administrative or Judicial Hearing by one of our Regional Offices, the case is referred to the Central Parent Locate Service (CPLS) and the On-Line Locate Unit. The On-Line Locate Unit will perform appropriate preliminary searches for the Non-Custodial Parent. Depending on the nature and circumstances of the case, the On-Line Locate Unit obtains information from the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Employment Security Commission, various public assistance programs, the Department of Corrections, the Electronic Parent Locate Network, the State Directory of New Hires, the Federal Parent Locate Service and credit reporting agencies.
Once the preliminary searches are completed by the On-Line Locate Unit, the case is sent to CPLS for the collection and verification of information to be used in securing and enforcing child support orders. Most often, the cases that arrive and are sent directly to CPLS are those with minimal or incomplete information, or information that is known to be outdated. The staff of CPLS examines the numerous sources available to it, compares the information found to that provided on the case referral or application, and determines the precise identity and location of the NCP. CPLS locates over 1,000 NCP's every month. This directly aids the regional legal offices in establishing more paternities and obtaining more support orders. In addition, CPLS is a resource that can be called upon by the regional legal offices in cases where the enforcement of a child support order proves difficult.
Unfortunately, many non-custodial parents do not live up to their financial responsibilities to their children and do not pay their child support. State and Federal laws have given the Family Court and the Child Support Enforcement Division (CSED) of the South Carolina Department of Social Services a number of methods to enforce a child support order. Bear in mind that these enforcement remedies are available in CSED cases only. If your case is not a South Carolina Child Support case and one of these remedies is appropriate, you must complete an application in order for the CSED to assist you. If your case is a South Carolina Child Support case and you feel one of these remedies is appropriate, please contact the Regional Office assigned to your case.
Any South Carolina Child Support order established or modified after January 3, 1994 and any child support order established or modified with the assistance of the South Carolina Child Support after October 31, 1990 is subject to being enforced through income withholding. If a non-custodial parent changes employers, the non-custodial parent must notify the appropriate clerk of court so that income withholding can be initiated by the new employer.
Rule to Show Cause Hearing
When a non-custodial parent does not make child support payments as ordered by the court, the judge will require that he/she appear before the court and explain why payments are not being made as ordered. If the non-custodial parent cannot provide a valid reason for not making the child support payments as ordered, the judge may order one of the enforcement remedies listed on this page. In addition, the judge has the ability to fine the non-custodial parent up to $1,500 and/or sentence the non-custodial parent to up to a year in jail for failure to pay South Carolina Child Support. If the non-custodial parent can provide a valid reason for not making the child support payments as ordered, the judge and the South Carolina Child Support staff will advise the non-custodial parent of the alternatives available in his/her case. If the non-custodial parent fails to appear for the Rule to Show Cause Hearing, the judge will issue a bench warrant for the arrest of the non-custodial parent.
If the non-custodial parent accumulates an arrears of at least $500 and has not made a payment within 60 days, any driver's, occupational, professional, business or commercial license issued by the State of South Carolina Child Support is subject to being suspended or revoked. Once a license has been suspended or revoked, the non-custodial parent cannot have the license reinstated until they have reached an agreement with the South Carolina Child Support Division to pay the arrears. The non-custodial parent is notified forty-five (45) days before any license is suspended or revoked. During this forty-five (45) day period, the non-custodial parent may contact the CSED and enter into an agreement to pay the arrears and prevent the license from being suspended or revoked.
Federal Income Tax Refund Offset
If the non-custodial parent is at least $150 in arrears and three months delinquent in a case where the custodial parent receives Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or at least $500 in arrears and three months delinquent in a Non-TANF case, his/her Federal Income Tax Refund is subject to being intercepted to pay child support. If a non-custodial parent files a joint return and certain conditions are met, the non-custodial parent's spouse may be eligible to receive their portion of the refund by completing IRS Form 8379 - Injured Spouse Claim and Allocation. The form has eligibility criteria and filing instructions on the first page.
State Income Tax Refund Offset
In any case in which the non-custodial parent has an arrears of $100 and a delinquency of three months, the non-custodial parent's State Income Tax Refund is subject to being intercepted to pay the child support.
All or part of any payment to the non-custodial parent from the Federal government is subject to being intercepted for paying child support arrears. The eligibility criteria are the same as Federal Income Tax Refund Offset (above). The following payments by the Federal government are excluded:
Unemployment Insurance Benefits Intercept
Any unemployment benefits received by the non-custodial parent are subject to being intercepted to pay South Carolina Child Support.
Passport Denial, Revocation or Restriction
All non-custodial parents referred for Federal Income Tax Refund Offset (above) with an arrears of at least $2,500 are automatically referred to the US Department of State for passport denial, revocation, or restriction. The non-custodial parent cannot obtain or renew a passport until the arrears is settled.
Any asset held by the non-custodial parent, real or personal, is subject to seizure if the non-custodial parent accumulates an arrears of at least $1,000. This could apply to assets such as bank accounts, land and automobiles.
Custody or Visitation
The South Carolina Child Support Enforcement Division does not have the authority to address custody and visitation issues on behalf of either parent. The CSED can only assist in the establishment of paternity and the establishment and enforcement of a child support order. The CSED is focused on making sure the non-custodial parent lives up to his/her financial responsibility in raising the child. The South Carolina Child Support, however, realizes that a parent's responsibilities do not begin or end with financial support. In order for a child to receive the fullest upbringing possible, the child must have the financial and emotional support of both parents. The more involved both parents are in the raising of the child, the better off the child will be.
Realizing the importance of both parents being involved with the child, the South Carolina Child Support has initiated a pilot project called Visitation Involvement Parenting (VIP), in which the CSED provides mediation services for the parents to establish a plan for access and visitation so that the child will have the benefit of both parents taking an active role in their life. The VIP Program also provides employment and training services for the non-custodial parent so that he/she can adequately provide financial support for the child and the VIP Program will provide instruction to both parents on how to request help from the Family Court to enforce the visitation order.
As a pilot program, the South Carolina Child Support can only provide the VIP Program in the following counties:
In order for the VIP Program to be available to you, both parents must live in one of these counties or the non-custodial parent must live in one of these counties and the custodial parent must agree to travel to the county where the non-custodial parent lives for any classes or mediation sessions.
South Carolina Child Support Customer Service
Child Support Enforcement Division
VIP Program, Colleton County
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