When Does Child Support End in South Carolina?

When the court signs off on a child support order, the terms are not necessarily permanent. Situations can change for the child and their parents, often making it necessary to adjust support payments. When does child support end in South Carolina?

Consider some common conditions that may terminate child support and how a Greenville family law and divorce attorney could help you. Contact J. Michael Turner, Jr. at Turner Family Law about your child support situation.

How Do You Terminate Child Support in South Carolina?

According to SC child support laws, the obligation to make payments ends when the child reaches the age of 18. However, other conditions may shorten or extend a support order:

  • A preexisting agreement or order allows it to continue beyond the child’s 18th birthday.
  • The child enters into a legal marriage or becomes self-supporting.
  • The child remains in high school after turning 18 but not exceeding the graduation date or the school year’s end.

Another important consideration is the question of arrearages, which are past due child support payments. Termination of child support absolves the paying parent of future support obligations. However, they still must cover all default payments even after the legal order ends.

Does child support continue through college?

Ideally, parents will agree on how they contribute to college expenses for children after terminating a child support agreement. However, if they do not, either parent, whether they were formerly custodial or not, may petition the court for a contract to make contributions for college expenses.

Factors the court may consider for this petition include the following:

  • Whether the child demonstrated an ability to commit to school work and make satisfactory grades
  • If the child indicated that they would benefit from going to college
  • If the parent has the financial ability to contribute to educational expenses
  • Whether the child would be able to go to college without the parent’s contributions

Financial aid availability also plays a role in post-secondary education support agreements. For example, the court will consider whether the child is eligible for grants and loans. Additionally, the child’s ability to work and earn an income during the school year and on vacation could impact the level of contribution from the parent.

When does child support end in South Carolina for disabled children?

Many states limit child support obligations for disability to the child’s 21st birthday, but South Carolina differs in this regard.

According to state law, a support order may remain in place as long as the child’s physical or mental disability exists or as long as an exceptional circumstance remains. The standard for making decisions about a child support order is always what is in the child’s best interest, and a child support lawyer can help understand what that means for parents like you.

What Other Conditions May Cancel Child Support?

A child’s legal marriage can cancel a child support order. For example, if a 19-year-old high school student chooses to get married before graduation, the paying parent may petition the court to terminate their support before the child completes high school.

South Carolina law permits marriage at 16 years old as long as at least one parent or guardian allows it. There are other ways a child can become legally emancipated before reaching 18.

How can a child under 18 become emancipated in South Carolina other than by marriage?

Joining the military is another form of emancipation and a scenario where the law permits a parent to petition for the termination of child support. At age 17, a child can join the military with parental consent, or they may join on their own at 18.

Currently, South Carolina does not have a court-ordered statute for emancipation. However, parents can come to an agreement with their child, acknowledging that the child can care for themselves. Moving out and living independently is the most common way for children to become emancipated. In this situation, the child becomes responsible for earning an income to support themselves and relieves the parents of that responsibility.

Does Child Support Automatically Terminate?

Under certain conditions, child support orders in South Carolina may automatically terminate. For example, if you only have one child or an emancipated youngest child and your obligations follow a support order, the order will terminate automatically. However, if you pay through family court and only have one child, you will need to petition the court for an order to terminate.

If your court order involves more than one child and the oldest becomes emancipated, you are still under obligation to pay support for the younger child. In this case, you will need to petition to modify the support agreement.

How Can a Child Support Attorney Help You?

If you have questions about your child support case, or need to petition the court for a modification of support, an experienced child support attorney can help. Turner Family Law attorney J. Michael Turner, Jr., understands the importance of having reliable and responsive legal representation when it comes to a legal situation involving your children.

Mr. Turner will aggressively advocate for you and ensure you are in the loop at every step of the process. Contact Turner Family Law in Greenville to schedule your consultation today.

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