The best interests of the child standard governs South Carolina custody cases. Judges in Greenville, SC are obligated to consider this above all else when rendering decisions. It’s not always a clear standard to parents who will be litigating custody issues in court. But understanding this guideline will help parents prepare as they work with their lawyers and anticipate their court dates.
SC Code §63-15-240(B) lays out several factors that a court may consider in determining a child’s best interest. They include but are not limited to:
(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
These guidelines make it clear that every child custody case must be decided on its own merits. There is no one-size-fits-all rule because every child, and every family unit, is different. Parents in Greenville, SC seeking custody and visitation should let their attorney know of all relevant facts in their case. A judge will want to make sure that the custody arrangement you want is in the best interests of the child. Your child custody attorney will focus on the evidence which both helps and hurts your position with respect to this.
There are some other principles that a parent should keep in mind when litigating a custody or visitation action. First, there is no presumption that either the mother or the father in Greenville will be a better parent. Instead, S.C. Code § 63-5-30 recognizes that both parents are equally charged with caring for their minor children. In addition, both parents have equal “power, rights, and duties,” and equal access to the child’s records and information. Unless an order prohibits a parent from doing so, either one may participate in the child’s school activities.
Also, South Carolina treats children born out of wedlock differently than those born to married parents. Custody of an illegitimate child rests solely with the natural mother unless she has relinquished her parental rights. The father must first petition for an order to establish his paternity. This will then allow him to seek custody and visitation rights.
Let a Greenville Child Custody Attorney Work for You
Every custody case is different, and requires rigorous examination of the facts. Regardless of where you are in your custody case, an experienced family law attorney can help you. Your attorney will prepare arguments as to why your desired custody or visitation is in best interests of the child. Let the team at Greenville Family Law help you today.