How Out of State Child Support Works

Out of state child support orders are a fact of life. After a divorce, both spouses want to move on and live their own lives. They realize they aren’t tied down to living where they did during the marriage. Divorce will open up new opportunities to move across the county and start a new life.

But when you have children, it’s a bit more complicated. When your ex-spouse is paying child support, moving to a new state can affect your child support order. This is true for the spouse paying child support (the “payor”) or the spouse receiving (the “payee”).

This article will explain how to get an out of state child support order in place in South Carolina.

Related: How is Child Support Calculated in South Carolina?

When there’s an out of state child support order, which state can enforce the order?

As a general rule, the out of state child support order follows the parent who is paying support. So if the paying parent lives in South Carolina, then South Carolina needs to have the child support case.

Only one state can enforce an out of state child support order at one time. The spouse that pays child support is the person who would get in trouble if they fail to pay. The only state that can enforce the child support order is the state where the payor lives.

For example, let’s say a couple divorced in Charlotte, North Carolina. The North Carolina judge ordered the father to pay child support. The father then moved to Summerville, South Carolina.

North Carolina can’t enforce its laws in South Carolina. Think of the state border as a barrier to other states’ laws. The North Carolina judge doesn’t have the power to punish the father if he doesn’t pay child support.

That’s why you would need to move the out of state child support order to South Carolina. The South Carolina judge would then enforce the child support order.

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How Do I Go about Filing an Out of State Child Support Order in South Carolina?

How you file depends on if you want DSS involvement. There are 3 different routes to take when filing for child support. The route you’ve taken determines not only how you file but also how to modify a support order (more on that below).

1. Going through DSS

This is one solution if you don’t have a ase in another state. If you’re entitled to child support, you can go to the South Carolina Department of Social Services. You can also go to your state’s similar agency if you don’t live in South Carolina. You can ask them to start a child support case.

Then, DSS will work with the other state’s agency to establish child support.

For example, let’s say the mother has custody of the child in Georgia. The father since moved to South Carolina. Because the couple was never married, there is no divorce order for child support.

The mother in Georgia can go to the Division of Family and Children Services to start a child support case. Georgia’s Division of Children and Families will contact South Carolina’s DSS. The agencies will work together to establish out of state child support in South Carolina. The father then makes payments through South Carolina DSS.

DSS can also help with establishing paternity if necessary.

2. Filing a Private Action

If someone doesn’t want to involve an agency like DSS, the other option is to file a private action. You can then file a private child support case in the county in South Carolina where payor lives.

The payor can pay child support either through the court or directly to the other parent.
South Carolina uses the same child support guidelines for all child support cases. Going through DSS or filing a private action won;’t have any effect on the amount the other parent pays.

In many cases, going through a private action may lead to getting child support established more quickly than through DSS.

3. Modifying an Out of State Child Support Order

Let’s say you and the other parent lived in Georgia and have an open child support case in Georgia.

Now let’s say you move from Georgia to South Carolina. What happens to child support?
Nothing. The child support case stays in Georgia because that’s where the parent who is paying support lives.

Now let’s say you stay in Georgia but the parent who pays support moves to South Carolina. Now what happens to child support?

The case needs to move to South Carolina. There is a procedure you need to follow to get an out of state child support order enforced in South Carolina.

How Do I Move a Child Support Case to South Carolina?

Like with filing a new case, it depends on if your case involves a state agency (e.g., DSS) or if this is a private action.

If you have an agency case, then the agency in the other state would transfer the case to DSS in South Carolina. DSS then moves the child support order to South Carolina from the other state.

But if you have a private action, you need to “register” the out of state child support order in South Carolina. That way, a South Carolina judge can enforce the order.

Why Do I need to Move (Register) the Out of State Order?

South Carolina can only enforce orders when it has the power to do so. South Carolina judges aren’t going to enforce North Carolina orders. That is, unless you register the out of state child support order in South Carolina.

Let’s say the paying parent moves to South Carolina and stops paying child support. The North Carolina judge can’t do anything. This is because the paying parent doesn’t live in North Carolina.

But, South Carolina judges can enforce orders on South Carolina residents. So, South Carolina can enforce the out of state child support order once it’s registered.

Registering a Child Support Case in South Carolina Allows Modification

Once you register an out of state child support order in South Carolina can also modify the order. This means that you can change the child support amount if moving to a new state resulted in a higher-paying job.

But in order for South Carolina to modify, you need to register the out of state  order. That way, South Carolina has the authority to modify child support.

How Do I Register an Out of State Order?

If the child support case is through a state agency like DSS, then the agency takes care of the registration. But, if you have a child support order from a private case, then you need to register the out of state child support order.

People register out of state child support orders when the paying parent moves. Moving to another state means a paying parent may have gotten a better paying job. It may also mean the paying parent stopped paying altogether. Both of these procedures are rather complex for non-attorneys in South Carolina.

Unlike do-it-yourself divorces, there aren’t standard forms in South Carolina. This means hiring a skilled attorney becomes necessary. Hiring an attorney to help makes sure it’s done right the first time.

The good news, though, is that registering an out of state order usually isn’t a long, drawn-out procedure. So attorney’s fees shouldn’t be very high.

Hiring an attorney to help register your out of state child support order helps if you also want to modify child support. It’s efficient and easy for an attorney to register the order and handle a modification at the same time.

Parents rely on prompt and reliable child support payments. Raising children is not cheap–raising them alone is even harder on a single income. Investing in an attorney can make a difference. Hiring an attorney can make sure registration of your out of state child support order is done right the first time. It can also make sure you’re paid sooner.

RELATED: Does Child Support End Automatically In South Carolina?

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Contact us today for a free consultation! The attorneys at the Maron Law Group register child support orders from other states and countries around the world. Let us take the guess-work out of helping you get what you’re entitled to.