DSS - Serving Children and Families
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FIRST THINGS FIRST Campaign. Child Support Services
A Division of the South Carolina Department of Social Services

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Who can get help from the Child Support Services Division (CSSD)?
Any custodial parent (CP) who has physical custody of a child and needs assistance in obtaining child support payments may apply for services. A non-custodial parent (NCP) may apply to have paternity established or to have his/her support order reviewed.

What is the application process?
Persons receiving assistance under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program automatically receive services from the CSSD. Persons not receiving TANF must complete an application form. Applications are available at our Regional Child Support Offices, County Department of Social Services Offices and County Clerks of Court Offices. An application can also be obtained by calling the CSSD toll-free number 1-800-768-5858 or downloaded from our Forms and Documents page.

Do child support services cost anything?
The CSSD charges a non-refundable $25.00 application fee. Persons receiving TANF assistance do not have to pay this fee.

Notice: 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 federal fiscal year (October 1 - September 30) 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.

How do I get a child support order?
The CSSD will schedule a negotiation conference or court hearing to establish child support. If the CP lives in South Carolina, he/she will be required to attend the conference or hearing. If the NCP lives out-of-state and a hearing is scheduled out-of-state, the CP will not be required to attend the hearing in another state. However, the CP may be required to attend a conference with the CSSD. Child support (and medical support, if available) will be set in the administrative or court order. An administrative order is enforceable in the same manner as a court order.

Custodial Parent Application
Non-Custodial Parent Application
How long does it take to obtain a child support order?
When the NCP is found and served with the notice, it usually takes less than three months. It may take longer if the NCP lives out-of-state.

How long does it take to find the NCP?
The NCP's address must be verified before a conference or court hearing can be scheduled. If the CP cannot provide a current address, if the NCP has recently moved, or if the NCP lives out-of-state, it may take several months to locate him/her. The more information provided in the application, such as NCP's date of birth and social security number, the easier it is to locate the NCP.

How is paternity established?
If the father and mother were not married at the time of the child's birth, an administrative or court order naming the legal father establishes paternity. The alleged father may voluntarily admit that he is the father of the child. In cases where he does not admit paternity, a court hearing and/or paternity tests can be scheduled. Paternity tests examine the genetic markers of the mother, alleged father, and the child. The paternity tests will either indicate the likelihood of paternity or exclude the alleged father from paternity. The alleged father must pay for the costs of the paternity tests. If the alleged father is excluded from paternity, the CP may be required to pay for the tests.

   Child Support Calculator   
Child Support Calculator Visit our Child Support Calculator to see how much child support may be ordered in your case.
How much child support will be ordered?
The amount of child support will be based on the South Carolina Child Support Guidelines. The Guidelines consider the income of both parents and the number of children. Day care and health insurance costs are also considered. A copy of the Guidelines can be obtained from the Regional Child Support Offices or from the CSSD by calling 1-800-768-5858. You may also download a copy of the Guidelines from our Forms and Documents page.

How can the amount of child support be increased or decreased?
Both the CP and the NCP have the right to request that the CSSD review the child support order every three years. The review may indicate that an upward or downward modification of child support is warranted.

What happens when there is a support order and the NCP pays irregularly?
The NCP is responsible for the total amount of the order. If the total amount is not paid, the CSSD may attempt to collect the child support in the following ways:

  • File contempt of court proceedings, which may result in a jail sentence if the NCP is found in contempt of court.
  • Withhold the child support from the NCP's wages or unemployment benefits.
  • Intercept federal and/or state income tax refunds.
  • Garnish worker's compensation benefits.
  • Refer the NCP to credit reporting agencies.
  • Revoke the occupational, professional, or driver's license of the NCP.
  • In cases where the NCP resides out-of-state, the CSSD may pursue federal prosecution of the NCP.
How long is the NCP ordered to pay child support?
Once the NCP is ordered to pay child support, the order is effective until the NCP petitions the court for a dismissal order and the court dismisses the support order. When the child is emancipated, or reaches the age of eighteen (18), the NCP may petition the court for a dismissal order. However, if the child is still in school or there are other reasons for the court to order child support to continue, the court may do so.

The NCP lives in another state. Does this matter?
No. States cooperate with each other in establishing and enforcing child support orders. However, when an NCP lives out-of-state, it may take longer to establish and enforce a child support order.

What about medical and dental insurance?
If either the CP or NCP can obtain insurance at a reasonable cost, that cost will be included in the calculation of the child support award. The parent providing the insurance coverage will receive a credit on his/her portion of the child support obligation.

If the NCP pays child support, why does the CP not receive all or any of the amount paid?
Under current law, the State has the right to recover current and past TANF payments to the CP. If the CP is currently receiving TANF, the State will recover the amount of the TANF payment from the amount paid by the NCP. If the CP has received TANF in the past but no longer receives a TANF payment, the State may recover any amounts still owed for the past TANF payments, but the CP will receive all child support the NCP pays up to the current monthly obligation. Only the amount paid over the monthly obligation in a given month is subject to being retained for prior TANF reimbursement.

What do all the acronyms used on this site stand for?

  • CP - Custodial Parent
  • CPLS - Central Parent Locate Service
  • CSSD - Child Support Services Division
  • NCP - Non-Custodial Parent
  • Non-TANF - Not receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
  • TANF - Receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

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