One of the toughest parts of a divorce is deciding who gets custody of the children after the marriage dissolution.
At Greenville Family Attorneys, our child custody lawyers understand that both parents want what is best for their children, and sometimes those wishes can cause heated debates and emotional responses. At the beginning of divorce proceedings, it’s hard for parents to protect their rights while ensuring their kid’s best interests.
Our Greenville child custody lawyers have years of experience serving people throughout South Carolina. We can provide the dedicated support you need during a custody battle to achieve the best outcome for you and your children.
On this page
What You Should Know About Child Custody
When a child is born to parents who are married, both parents have full child custody rights until a family law court rules otherwise. Both the mother and father are joint guardians of minor children and share equally the education and welfare responsibilities of those children. Neither parent has more rights over the other; and each parent, whether the custodial or non-custodial guardian, has equal access to their children unless a family court rules otherwise.
When a child is born to parents who aren’t married, the birth mother retains child custody unless the mother renounces her rights or family court orders otherwise. If paternity is acknowledged, the father can petition for child custody or visitation rights.
Usually, child custody and visitation arrangement are quite flexible, and there are many options to consider in the negotiation phase. Some factors courts consider when arranging child custody or visitation schedules include:
- The proximity of parents’ homes
- Parents’ work schedules
- And willingness to maintain a close parent-child relationship
Normally, the “visiting” or the non-custodial parent is ordered to pay child support. The amount of child support appropriate varies greatly depending on a number of factors.
How Does the Greenville, SC Family Court Determine Child Custody?
Child custody laws across the country are designed to uphold the child’s best interests, and South Carolina laws aren’t different. In determining custody, support, and visitation, family law courts look at the willingness of both parents to create and continue a meaningful relationship with their children. By determining if both parents will work together, the court decides if joint physical custody or sole physical custody works best for the child. In most situations, family law experts deem that joint physical custody is in the best interest of the child.
South Carolina child custody courts do everything they can to reduce the emotional impact of the child involved in the custody battle. When determining the child’s best interests, South Carolina family courts consider the following things:
- The mental and physical state of both parents
- Any evidence of physical or sexual abuse
- The child’s mental and physical state
- The child’s preference depending on their age and maturity level.
Can A Child Decide Custody for Themselves?
The older the child is the more likely they can influence the custody process. Children of nearly any age may express their opinion about which parent they want to have custody, but this doesn’t mean the judge has to agree. A Greenville child custody lawyer can advise that just because a child expresses a preference doesn’t mean that the family court judge has to agree. Often, judges overrule children’s preference if they feel another arrangement can serve the child’s interest better.
For children aged below 12 years, a preference likely carries little weight before a family court judge. This is because children this young are seen as immature and are easily influenced by parents and others who might use them to serve their own interests. Our South Carolina child custody attorneys know that as children become older, courts are more likely to take their wishes seriously. Children over 14, for example, are seen as mature enough to understand the decision they’re making. Even then, the court can overrule a child’s opinion, but children are more persuasive as they get older and mature.
Can Custody Decisions Be Changed?
In South Carolina, all custodial matters are subject to modification. But this doesn’t mean that modification is common and easy to secure. To change child custody decisions, you must convince a family court judge that circumstances have changed substantially. An experienced Greenville child custody lawyer knows that these changes must all have happened after the initial custody arrangements were put into place. Also, these substantial changes must affect the best interest of the child in question.
When requesting custody modification, you must prove the three factors above, which means a family court judge will side with keeping the status quo unless you convince them otherwise. So, minor matters or disagreements between parents aren’t enough to justify a custody modification. Instead, big things, such as a move out of state, remarriage, or proof of abuse or neglect, are often involved in successful custody modification cases.
Contact A Greenville Child Custody Lawyer Today!
Whether you’re looking to enforce existing custody orders or visitation arrangements or any other family-law related case, we offer comprehensive legal services. Our experienced Greenville Family Attorneys can answer all your questions about South Carolina child support, adoption, parenting plan, or guardianship issues. Contact us today at (864) 475-9393 or chat with us online to get the best solutions to your child custody case.
I Have a Court Hearing Requesting That I Pay Child Support. What Should I Do?
Every family court matter and situation is unique. However, if possible, contact an experienced family law attorney to help you navigate the family court process and ensure the best outcome for you and your children. Our Greenville family law attorneys are ready to help you. Call us today or chat with us online for a free consultation.
What Should be in My Child Custody Parenting Plan?
Normally, parents know best when it comes to their children’s needs. But during a divorce, the state may influence how decisions are made and where the children will live. Many parents avoid this by drawing up detailed parenting plans, outlining their desires for their children after a divorce. A good parenting plan should be flexible and specific.
Can I be Ordered to Pay Child Support if I Don’t Have Any Access to My Child or Children?
Yes, all parents are required to pay child support, no matter how often they have contact or visit their children. The only instance when you may not be required to pay child support is if your parental rights have been terminated.
Does Child Custody Affect Child Support Orders?
Typically, the amount of child support one party is ordered to pay the other is largely influenced by the amount of physical custody both parents have. Thus, the more time you’re parenting the child, the less child support you will have to pay. This is because you’re spending more on the child when they’re in your care.