In any action for divorce from the bonds of matrimony the court may at any stage of the cause, or from time to time after final judgment, make such orders touching the care, custody and maintenance of the children of the marriage and what, if any, security shall be given for the same as from the circumstances of the parties and the nature of the case and the best spiritual as well as other interests of the children may be fit, equitable and just.
In determining the best interests of the child, the court must consider the child's reasonable preference for custody. The court shall place weight upon the preference based upon the child's age, experience, maturity, judgment, and ability to express a preference. Consideration is also given to the religious faith of the child, and the evidence of physical or sexual abuse. [Based on South Carolina Code of Laws Section 20-3-160 and 20-7-1515 through 20-7-1530]CHILD SUPPORT:
In any proceeding for the award of child support, there is a rebuttable presumption that the amount of the award which would result from the application of the South Carolina child support guidelines required under Section 43-5-580(b) is the correct amount of child support to be awarded. The court shall consider the following factors which may be possible reasons for deviation from the guidelines or may be used in determining whether a change in circumstances has occurred which would require a modification of an existing order:
- Educational expenses for the children or the spouse.
- Equitable distribution of property.
- Consumer debts.
- Families with more than six children.
- Un-reimbursed extraordinary medical or dental expenses.
- Mandatory deduction of retirement pensions and union fees.
- Support obligations for other dependents living with the non-custodial parent or non-court ordered child support from another relationship.
- Child-related un-reimbursed extraordinary medical expenses.
- Monthly fixed payments imposed by a court or operation of law.
- Significant available income of the child or children.
- Substantial disparity of income in which the non-custodial parent's income is significantly less than the custodial parent's income, thus making it financially impracticable to pay what the guidelines indicate the non-custodial parent should pay.
- Agreements reached between parties. [Based on South Carolina Code of Laws Section 20-7-852]