Child support in South Carolina typically ends when the child turns 18, graduates from high school or meets other criteria for elimination of child support. However, there are instances when the child support cutoff age can be extended. If the child is still in high school at age 18, support is in place until the child graduates or turns 19.
In addition, support responsibility may be extended if a divorce decree specifies conditions of change. It may be necessary to file a court motion to have your child support obligation terminated.
End South Carolina Child Support Before Age 18
In the State of South Carolina, a person is not considered an adult until they turn 18, the “age of majority.” Child support is generally paid until that point. At age 18, an individual is considered able to make legal decisions for themselves. While it may be an outlier, there are specific cases when a child may be emancipated before the legal adult age and child support is no longer mandated.
Instances of child support stopped before age 18:
Child support is no longer needed when the parent doesn't need to provide essentials of life, including food, clothing, shelter, education, and healthcare. That may occur ahead of the child's 18th birthday in the instances below.
- Marriage: A person can get married at age 16 in South Carolina with the permission of at least one parent or guardian.
- Military: Individuals generally are able to enlist in a branch of the military when they are 18. However, they can join at age 17 with parental consent.
- Moving: The child moves out of the parent's home to provide their own way economically.
In the event any of these situations occur with your child, you may have to file a termination action with the court. The best way to ensure you make the right legal move without getting in trouble with child support court or accumulating backpay is to hire an experienced Pawleys Island lawyer.
Child Support Beyond 18
In other situations, your child support obligation may extend beyond the child's 18th birthday. This includes the above-mentioned scenario where the child doesn't graduate high school until they are 19. Other scenarios of extended child support include:
- College: The divorce decree may mandate child support as long as the child is enrolled in college, a trade school, or another form of higher education. South Carolina courts may also mandate a parent to contribute to a child's college tuition or other education-related expenses.
- Disability: It's often the case that courts will extend the child support obligation if the child is special needs or has a disability.
Unless your divorce decree specifies child support payments beyond age 18, or your child meets one of the extension qualifiers, you will likely conclude support payments when the child turns 18.
Back Child Support South Carolina
If you owe back child support when the child turns 18, the amount is not forgiven. You will have to pay what is owed, even if you're no longer required to make support payments moving forward.
At Hopkins Law Firm, we've helped countless individuals better understand the child support process and petition the court for a child in support payments. Our team is well-versed in family law and will act on your behalf for the best possible outcome.