Child Support

When Do Our Kids Finally Get Off Payroll?

Child Support in South Carolina is generally payable through HS graduation, but when parents are divorced, what are their financial responsibilities afterwards?

It would be nice our kids were entirely self sufficient upon HS graduation: a good paying job, nice apartment, reliable transportation, broadband internet service, etc. However, this is not reality, and once our kids turn 18 and graduate from HS it seems to many of us that they actually begin to cost more!

While our kids are still minors, many expenses routinely paid by parents are in addition to what is required by the South Carolina Child Support Guidelines. Child support in South Carolina is intended to cover, and not cover the following expenses:

food at home; food away from home; shelter; utilities; household goods (furniture, appliances, linens, floor coverings, and house wares); clothing; transportation (other than visitation related); ordinary health care; and recreation. Excluded from these expenditure categories are estimated expenditures for child care and child support on an as-paid basis. Also excluded from these estimates are personal insurance (e.g. life, disability), gifts, contributions, and savings. Because mortgage principal (as opposed to interest) is considered to be savings, it is not included in the estimates of child-rearing expenditures.  (2014 SC Child Support Guidelines)

See a category for “Cellular Telephone”, “Auto Insurance”, “College Tuition”, “Spending Money”, “Prom Dress”, “Broadband Internet Service”? These expenses are not covered in the Guidelines. Whether or not they should be is a matter for our Legislature, but many parents paying and receiving child support recognize this fact and voluntarily choose, or agree in writing, to cover these costs during minority and in many cases for a period of time during majority.

With the exception of College Expenses (another Blog topic, stay tuned!), the law says that once our kids reach majority they are on their own. It can hardly be argued that in this day and age a cell phone, insurance, internet service and reliable transportation are a luxury. How can our kids get a job without a phone and internet access, how can they get to work or school without reliable transportation?

The best time to address payment of these extra costs is during the divorce settlement negotiations. It is good practice to ensure that expenses such as the cell phone and auto insurance are covered by way of the final written agreement. If so, the family court can (and will) enforce payment of these additional costs even if the kids are past age 18 and have graduated from HS.

If we want our kids to be well educated and self sufficient, (in other words, off the payroll!)  divorced parents simply need to do what married couples do– find a way to make it happen. Divorced parents need to put the love of their children ahead of their disdain for the other parent. Our kids are our future and they reflect who we are in our community . Besides, if we are nice to our kids and support them as they become educated and employed, perhaps some day we can be on their payroll!

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