Factors in Determining Custody in South Carolina
One of the most difficult decisions divorcing couples face is how and where their children will live. While you and your spouse can, and are encouraged to, determine child custody together, without intervention from the court, this is not always possible. When you and your spouse cannot agree regarding with whom your child will live and how visitation will work, the court will make that decision for you.
How a Court Determines With Whom a Child Will Live
Making a decision about child custody is not easy for anyone involved and if the court must make that decision, they will need to hear as much information as possible from both parties. Ultimately, if the court is tasked with the responsibility of making a custody decision it will always consider what is in the best interests of the child. If placing a child in the custody of one parent does not appear to be within the child’s best interests, then the court will not issue this judgement.
The state of South Carolina has passed laws regarding what factors the court should weigh in determining what is in a child’s best interests. These factors are:
- Child’s preference. The state does allow for a child to express their preference if the child is of an appropriate maturity and age, and the older a child gets, likely the more his preference will be considered.
- Any history of domestic violence in the home. The court must also consider whether domestic violence is a factor. If one of the parents has physically or emotionally abused anyone in the home, placing the child with the perpetrator will not likely be permitted.
- The needs of the child. Each child has very specific and unique needs. A South Carolina court must consider the needs of the child, including:
- Developmental needs;
- Temperamental needs;
- Cultural and spiritual needs and background;
- Physical needs;
- Psychological needs; and
- The child’s ability to adjust their home, school, and community environments.
- The ability of each parent to foster a relationship between the child and the other parent. Because it is almost always within the child’s best interest to maintain a relationship with both parents, the court will consider the ability and willingness of each parent to foster a loving relationship between the child and the other parent.
- The wishes of each parent. While parents always love their children, they may not agree regarding what’s best for the child. The wishes of each parent will be considered in determining in the best interests of the child.
How to Present Evidence to the Court
If you are petitioning for custody of your child, you will want to present evidence to the court supporting your petition and show that being awarded custody is in your child’s best interest. This might include statements from friends and families, the child’s psychologist or other providers, the child’s teachers or counselors, and more. You will also want to present evidence of your ability to provide a stable home for your child, such as evidence of your income and living environment, work schedule, and more. For example, if you are working 80 hours a week, having full-time custody of your child – especially during a tumultuous time in your child’s life – may not be within your child’s best interests.
The Importance of Hiring an Experienced South Carolina Attorney for Representation throughout the Custody Process
When you are petitioning the court for custody of your child, it is always a good idea to work with an experienced South Carolina child custody attorney. Not only do you need to file a petition for child custody, but there are certain requirements for how evidence must be presented at a temporary and final hearing, and without the involvement of an experienced family court attorney, you may be at a stark disadvantage in presenting the evidence you want the judge to hear. The process can be tedious, confusing, and emotional – having the support of a professional will help and could mean the difference a positive and negative outcome.
At The Cate Law Firm, P.A. , our compassionate family law attorneys are committed to advocating for you. If you are going through a divorce and have questions about child custody, contact our experienced South Carolina child custody attorneys today for your confidential, no obligation consultation. We can be reached at (864) 585-4226 or online.