When Can Charleston Child Support Be Decreased Or Increased?

Your life has changed significantly since your divorce or legal separation became final. Some of those changes may have been financial and some of them may have involved your child.

Now you want to know: “Can I get my child support payment changed?

The answer is: “Yes, you can change the amount of your Charleston child support payment, if you can prove a substantial change in circumstances.”

I. There Are Many Reasons Why Your Charleston Divorce Judge May Increase or Decrease Your Child Support Payment.

Your Charleston divorce judge may increase or decrease child support payment for any of the following reasons:

  • Your child’s needs have changed. Any significant change in the mental or physical condition of your child might support an increase in your child support payment. For example, your Charleston child custody lawyer may be able to persuade your judge to increase the amount of child support if your child has incurred or is likely to incur unanticipated, extraordinary medical expenses. Likewise, if your child has become disabled, your Charleston divorce judge may continue child support after your child turns 18.
  • You or your former spouse has experienced a substantial change in financial circumstances. Your Charleston divorce attorney may be able to get a reduction in your child support payment if you have lost your job, had your pay cut, suffered a reduction in the hours you can work, become disabled, or experienced a significant decline in your earning capacity. Similarly, your Charleston divorce lawyer may be able to get a change in your child support obligation if your former spouse has had the opposite experience – i.e., has become employed, received a pay increase, works more hours, or has an improved earning capacity.
  • One of your children has been emancipated or no longer lives with the custodial parent. An obligation to pay child support for two or more children does not automatically decrease if one of the children becomes emancipated. Likewise, your duty to pay child support does not automatically end if your child moves into your house or the residence of someone other than the custodial parent. If you want to change your child support payment for either of these reasons, your Charleston divorce lawyer will have to file appropriate papers with the court for a child support change.
  • Your Charleston divorce judge has granted a motion to modify child custody. The number of “overnights” that your child has with each parent under your child custody order is one of the more significant factors in calculating SC child support. Since a change in child custody usually changes the number of overnights, your judge may change your child support payment when your judge changes child custody.
  • You are no longer receiving alimony.  As I explain in my article on “How to Calculate Child Support in a South Carolina Divorce,” the alimony (which you receive) is included in your “income” when child support is calculated. When you start receiving a reduced amount of alimony or no alimony, your income should be reduced for the purpose of recalculating child support. With the drop in your income, you may qualify for an increase in the amount of child support that you receive. Since your child support will not automatically increase when your alimony decreases or ends, your Charleston child custody attorney must file a motion to modify child support for that purpose.
  • You or your former spouse has been called to military service. South Carolina law permits a temporary modification of child support when a parent has been called to temporary military service. Your Charleston, SC divorce attorney can advise you on the specific procedures you must follow to qualify for this temporary reduction in child support.

This is not an exhaustive list of the reasons why your Charleston divorce judge may change the amount of your child support payment. If you do not find your situation described on this list, you should consult with a Charleston child custody and divorce lawyer.  There are other reasons why you may be able to get your child support payment increased or decreased.

II. Charleston Divorce Judges Often Deny Requests to Change Child Support.

Charleston divorce judges carefully review each motion to modify child support. A Charleston judge may deny a request to change child support if any of the following circumstances are present:

  • The reason for the requested change in child support could have been anticipated when your child support order was entered.
  • The person requesting a reduction in child support can reasonably make the current child support payments.
  • The request for a change in child support was filed primarily because the other parent has remarried.
  • The parent seeking the change in child support has voluntarily quit a job, switched to a lower paying job, or stopped looking for a job (if unemployed).
  • The parent seeking a reduction in child support continues to enjoy the same lifestyle despite changes in marital status and finances.

If you are the party opposing a motion to modify child support, your Charleston divorce lawyer may employ these or other defenses.


As an experienced divorce and child custody attorney in Charleston, SC, I can answer your Charleston child support questions. To speak directly with me, please call me now at 843-631-7117. 

Alternatively, please use the contact form to ask me any questions that you may have regarding your Charleston divorce or legal separation case. I will be quick to respond.  You can be sure that I will keep strictly confidential anything that you write to me.

Working together, we will protect your parental rights and build a better future for you and your child in Awendaw, Charleston, Daniel Island, Goose Creek, Isle of Palms, James Island, Johns Island, Kiawah, Mount Pleasant, North Charleston, Sullivan’s Island, Summerville, or West Ashley.

Recommendations for Additional Reading

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Charleston Child Support – Part 1

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Charleston Child Support – Part 2

Charleston Child Support Myths

What Are The Differences Between Alimony and Child Support In a Charleston Divorce?

For South Carolina Parents, Few Options for Collecting Overdue Child Support