In South Carolina, the law tells the judges that, after reviewing all factors, it’s what’s in the best interest of the child that’s most important. While other states may consider joint custody to be in the best interest of the child, South Carolina may be somewhat reluctant to consider joint custody because joint custody may be presumed to not be in the best interest of the child and many times parents are divided and don’t cooperate with each other.
Although the South Carolina courts are starting to look at joint custody more than they have in the past. The law offices of Thomason & Pracht, LLC., encourages you to retain a qualified family law attorney in any custody matter in Anderson, South Carolina.
Anderson, SC Families: Evaluating your Child’s Best Interests
South Carolina judges consider many relevant factors in the life of your child and when they evaluate what is your child’s best interest they will look at:
- The attitude, parental fitness, and character of both you and the other parent.
- Medical conditions: If you have a special needs child, the judge may give custody to the parent that has the most time to spend with the child, or to the parent that lives closest to the medical center where your child receives care.
- Education: Your child’s school records may contain information for the judge that helps them determine who should have custody of your child. For example, if your child isn’t doing well in the school, it could indicate that the child’s home life isn’t being supportive of your child’s success in school. Alternatively, in a case where your child is performing well in school, there may not be a change in custody
- Psychological factors: The South Carolina judge may also consider the mental health of your child as well as your and the other parent’s mental health. A judge may feel that a parent with psychological problems may not be able to provide the necessary attention and support your child deserves.
- Emotional state: The judge in Family Court may also consider the maturity of your child and how well they may adapt to a change in custody.
- Religious considerations: If you and the other parent can’t agree on the religious upbringing of your child, the judges in South Carolina will generally grant custody to one parent and allow that parent to make the decisions regarding your child’s religious education.
- Home environment: A judge may consider such things as your home’s stability level, and who else is living in the home. Also, recreational opportunities and how much contact your child has with other children may also play a part in who gets custody of your child.
Types of Custody in South Carolina
There are two types of custody arrangements in South Carolina, sole and joint.
Sole custody is you or the other parent has temporary or permanent custody of your child and…” the rights and responsibilities for major decisions concerning the child including… education, medical and dental care, extracurricular activities, and religious training.”
In South Carolina, joint custody means that you and the other parent have equal rights and responsibilities for any major decisions about your child. The law requires that judges consider all the custody options in a case where you or the other parent is contesting custody, or if you or the other parent are requesting joint custody.
More and more the family courts in South Carolina are looking at joint custody as a viable option, but only if it is in the best interest of the child.
Non-Married Parents rights in South Carolina
The first step in custody in South Carolina for an unwed father is to prove paternity. Once you’ve established paternity, unless the case has been brought before the court by the Department of Social Services, the case will move forward in court much like any other custody matter.
The court will look at many factors to determine what is in the best interest of your child such as drug and/or alcohol use by you and the other parent, the jobs of you and the other parent, whether the father has financially contributed to the pregnancy or to your child after it was born, who has the most suitable home environment, etc.
South Carolina Grandparents and Custody of their Grandchildren
Gaining custody of your grandchild in South Carolina can be a difficult process because in many cases, the parents must be found to be unfit, or have voluntarily or involuntarily given up custody of your grandchild.
The process of gaining custody of your grandchild starts with a motion being filed with the court. A hearing will take place after the motion has been filed and served on the parents, and evidence can be presented at that time. After the hearing, the court will make its decision as to whether granting you custody of your grandchild is in the best interest of the child.
Legal Relationships in South Carolina
Without legal custody or guardianship of your grandchild, you will not be able to make any medical decisions or educational decisions in regards to your grandchild.
Involuntary v. Voluntary Relinquishment in South Carolina
It may be that the parents of your grandchild have voluntarily given you custody of your grandchild on a temporary basis due to financial hardship or illness, and once they are able to take care of your grandchild they will reclaim custody of their child.
However, in other cases where the parents of your grandchild don’t voluntarily give up custody of your grandchild, it will be necessary for you to petition the court for custody.
Grandparent Custody Determinations in South Carolina
South Carolina’s primary concern is what is in the best interest of the child. For example, if your grandchild is in foster care, you may be able to have custody of your grandchild transferred to you.
However, it’s important to remember that the parents of your grandchild have “superior rights” that supersedes anyone else, even grandparents. You need to be able to prove in court that the parents of your grandchild are unfit and your grandchild would be better off under your care.