In South Carolina, noncustodial parents can be given jail time for failing to make child support payments on time and in full. Under the law, child support payments could be as little as five days late, and a custodial parent can ask a civil court to force the noncustodial parent to pay. If the noncustodial parent does not comply, the judge can hold him or her in contempt of court, which means the judge could issue a warrant for the noncustodial parent's arrest.
Walter Scott Was Late On Child Support Payments
This issue has garnered some attention in recent months, especially due to the recent shooting of Walter Scott, an African American man who was fatally shot and killed by police after he ran from them during a routine traffic stop for a broken taillight. Mr. Scott had an outstanding warrant for his arrest because of late child support payments, and he had already served time in jail previously for late child support. He knew the warrant was in existence, he knew that if the police ran his license they would discover the warrant, and he knew he did not want to go back to jail. This is presumably one of the reasons he fled from the officers before he was killed.
South Carolina and Child Support Contempt Hearings
Studies have been conducted on the state's prison system that show that nearly 1 in 8 of those individuals in prison are there because of missed child support payments. This is because South Carolina has extremely strict rules when it comes to paying child support and judges take the matter very seriously.
The study also found that one of the biggest factors for receiving jail time due to failure to pay child support is a lack of legal counsel. A remarkable 98 percent of those facing contempt of court charges for late child support were not represented by legal counsel, and 95 percent of those individuals were sentenced to serve prison time. Part of the problem is that South Carolina is one of only five states that does not require noncustodial parents facing child support contempt proceedings to have legal representation.
Why It's Important To Have Tough Rules
South Carolina is one of the toughest states on noncustodial parents who are late on their child support payments. But the reasoning behind such strong rules is that missed child support payments can place financial strains on the custodial parent, and adversely impact the child's well being. This is why custodial parents are provided with enforcement options under South Carolina law.
What Can A Parent Facing Contempt of Court Do?
If you are a parent facing contempt of court because you haven't made your child support payments on time, you might be able to avoid jail time if you act quickly and get the legal help you need. An experienced South Carolina child support lawyer is going to know what options you have available to you. For example, some people are able to work out a payment plan rather than serve jail time, while others are able to make their child support payment in full.
Contacting a Charleston Child Support Attorney
If you are facing contempt of court for late child support payments, or you need to file a court action to obtain child support that is due to you, contact the Charleston family lawyers at Sarji Law Firm, LLC. Please get in touch with us by calling 843-323-4341.