Both parents have the right to custody of their child, and that's typically the preference of the courts. The idea is a simple one: each child and parent has the right to develop their relationship. Barring any serious issues like abuse or neglect, child custody is a right both parents have. Determining what that manifests as is another issue altogether.

At Sarji Law Firm, our child custody attorney in South Carolina will thoroughly review your case, listen to your concerns and preferences, and outline the best course of action for you. We know you have your child's best interests at heart. To that end, we will make every effort to attain the child custody arrangement best for you and your child. Contact us online or at 843-722-5354 to schedule a consultation. 

What is Child Custody in Charleston, South Carolina?

When two parents are no longer together, one of the most important matters to be decided is who will have custody of their child. In most states, there are two different types of custody that the court must consider: legal custody and physical custody.

Legal Custody

Legal custody is not related to whom the child lives with. Instead, the parent with legal custody has the legal right to make important life decisions for the child. For example, a parent with sole custody will decide where the child attends school and the type of healthcare they will receive, and it is usually not legally required that a parent with sole custody consult with the other parent prior to making this decision. It is possible in South Carolina for the parents to have joint legal custody.  With joint custody arrangements, there is usually one parent named primary parent, who will have the duty to consult with the secondary parent on major decisions related to the child's education, healthcare, religion, and extracurricular activities.  If the primary parent and secondary parent cannot agree, the primary parent has the right to make the final decision.  

Physical Custody

Physical custody concerns where the child resides.  Usually, the child will reside primarily with a parent who has sole custody, but hypothetically, a person could have sole legal custody and still have a true 50/50 visitation arrangement.  Parents with joint custody will also have a plan set in place that determines who has the child when. 

When determining who to award child custody to, a court will consider what is in the best interest of the child. Some of the factors the court will look at are:

(1) the temperament and developmental needs of the child;
(2) the capacity and the disposition of the parents to understand and meet the needs of the child;
(3) the preferences of each child;
(4) the wishes of the parents as to custody;
(5) the past and current interaction and relationship of the child with each parent, the child's siblings, and any other person, including a grandparent, who may significantly affect the best interest of the child;
(6) the actions of each parent to encourage the continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent, as is appropriate, including compliance with court orders;
(7) the manipulation by or coercive behavior of the parents in an effort to involve the child in the parents' dispute;
(8) any effort by one parent to disparage the other parent in front of the child;
(9) the ability of each parent to be actively involved in the life of the child;
(10) the child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community environments;
(11) the stability of the child's existing and proposed residences;
(12) the mental and physical health of all individuals involved, except that a disability of a proposed custodial parent or other party, in and of itself, must not be determinative of custody unless the proposed custodial arrangement is not in the best interest of the child;
(13) the child's cultural and spiritual background;
(14) whether the child or a sibling of the child has been abused or neglected;
(15) whether one parent has perpetrated domestic violence or child abuse or the effect on the child of the actions of an abuser if any domestic violence has occurred between the parents or between a parent and another individual or between the parent and the child;
(16) whether one parent has relocated more than one hundred miles from the child's primary residence in the past year, unless the parent relocated for safety reasons; and
(17) other factors as the court considers necessary.

S.C. Code § 63-15-240

If a matter affects the child, the court will likely consider it when awarding custody.

Parenting Plans and Child Custody in Charleston, South Carolina

Once child custody has been determined, even when one parent has sole custody, the parties will usually enter into a parenting plan. A parenting plan lays out what is expected of each parent to provide the child with the physical and mental stability they need to prosper. It can address everything from where a child lives, to the religion they will be exposed to.  If a parenting plan is adopted by the Court and incorporated into a court order, it becomes enforceable by the contempt powers of the Court.  You will want to submit a well thought out parenting plan at a temporary hearing.  The Court's form for a parenting plan that is to be submitted during a temporary hearing is found here: Court Forms for Family Court

Contact a Child Custody Lawyer in South Carolina Today

If you are facing a child custody issue, make certain your rights are protected by hiring a lawyer with experience in child custody disagreements. Contact Sarji Law Firm in South Carolina today by using our online form or calling us directly at 843-722-5354.