The most contentious matter in many divorces is the issue of child custody. Most parents tend to feel that they are the ones that deserve to have full legal custody and physical custody over their children. While attempting to do this they can punitively shut out the other parent from raising their kids. In certain instances a parent may be a danger to the children and one of the parents getting full legal and physical custody over the child or children is in the kid’s best interest. The court decides the case issue of child custody based on the best interest of the children.
Even if the parents have separated they still need to continue caring for their kids. When the parents fail to come up with a parenting plan for their children the court will take care of planning and deciding issues that concern the health and welfare of the child. This means that they will make decisions about the time the child will spend in the company of each parent and the parent that will be responsible for giving primary care to them.
There are times that the relatives of the child or other persons of interest can ask the courts to give them parenting time or custody. The court weighs every situation and makes a decision based on the best interests of the child.
If you are getting a divorce or are in a situation where you are wondering how is child custody determined in SC, you are in luck. This article will give you information about the options for child custody in South Carolina.
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Different Types of Custody in South Carolina
The South Carolina custody laws define custody depending on the parent that will make significant decisions on the child. It is not only an issue of where the child will live. There are different types of custody agreement options in South Carolina. Here are some of them.
When a parent has legal custody they have the power to make decisions over the child. There are two types of legal custody they are joint legal custody and sole legal custody. Sole legal custody is whereby one of the parents has the decision-making power. Most of the time the court may not order for sole legal custody since both parents have the right to be involved in the life of their minor child. For the decision-making power to be taken away from one of the parents it must be in the child’s best interest.
In a joint custody situation, both parents are involved in making major decisions for the child. Most courts in South Carolina have a preference for joint legal custody situations. In this type of custody, parents inform one another and discuss major issues that will affect the child’s life such as; decisions about religious training, medical care, and treatment educational decisions. One of the parents can make a major decision regarding the child’s life if in good faith effort the other parent is unable to make the decision.
Physical custody means whom the child will be living with. Both parents can have joint legal custody but one parent can have physical custody over the child or children. Physical custody can be joint physical custody, primary physical custody plus visitation, or shared physical custody.
In a joint physical custody situation, both parents have the role of primary caretaker and are able to spend equal time with their child. The child can spend alternate weeks with each parent. In South Carolina, the courts advise against this type of custody because the child can fail to get stability because of how much they alternatively move around.
When a parent has sole custody over the child it means that they will have all the time with the child and they do not share custody with the other parent. Even so, it does not mean that the other parent will not see their child. It is possible for a family court judge to order unsupervised or supervised visitation.
Primary Physical Custody
In South Carolina Primary physical custody or shared physical custody is the most favorable kind of custody option. In this situation, the custodial parent will have primary physical custody and the noncustodial parent will be granted visitation.
How Child Custody is Determined in South Carolina
In South Carolina, a family court will decide child custody based on what they perceive to be the child’s best interest. When a dispute is brought to court the family court judge is responsible for deciding the parent that will be awarded physical and or legal custody. There are a variety of factors that will be considered when deciding the issue of child custody. Here are some of the issues that the court will consider;
- What the minor children prefer.
- The parent’s preferences will be put into consideration.
- The developmental needs of the child and the ability of each individual parent to meet the specific needs.
- How available each parent is to be actively involved in the child’s life.
- How the court perceives the willingness of the parent to comply with the orders of the court and have a good relationship with the parent that has not been granted custody.
- Manipulative behavior that involved the child improperly in the parental dispute and that includes speaking ill of the other parent to the children.
- The situation of the relationship that the child has with the parent. That includes the current and past relationship as well as the relationship that the child has with other important family members.
- The spiritual and cultural background of the child
- If any parents has a history of violence currently or in the past
- If the minor child has been neglected or abused
- The plans living arrangement plants. For example if they plan to move a big distance way from the current primary residence of the child.
- The impact that each custody situation will have on the child’s adjusting to their community, home or school.
Does a Child’s Preference for Custody Matter in SC?
In South Carolina during a child custody proceeding the courts will listen to the child’s preference. Depending on the age of the child their preference has a high likelihood of being considered. Even so, it does not mean that because a child has stated their preference for one parent over the other that the family law court will grant them their choice.
The court’s goal in a child custody case is for each parent to have equal access to their kids. The child’s opinion will be considered by the judge, but the custody decision that will be made will be in the child’s best interest.
There is not much consideration given to children that are below the age of 12 years.
A child that is below the age of 12 is not seen to be mature or responsible for them to be able to make a decision on preference for custody. The court feels that it is possible for younger children to be manipulated by a parent that is only using custody to hurt the other party during a divorce.
Get Help from a Child Custody Attorney
After a decision on child custody has been made the decision will remain in effect until the adult turns a legal age of 18. There are some instances where it is possible for child custody to be modified. Our Greenville child custody lawyer can help you seek custody requests and as well solve other custody issues such as visitation rights. Our legal counsel has vast child custody knowledge and we can help you get the visitation schedule or custody arrangement you need. Call our Greenville family attorneys today at (864) 475-9393 to schedule a free consultation.