CHARLESTON CHILD CUSTODY LAWYER JAY MCMILLIAN
HOW DO I GET CUSTODY OF MY CHILD IN SOUTH CAROLINA
The basic factor in all South Carolina Family Courts for all custody decisions is to determine “what is in the best interests of the child.” That is a very vague term and South Carolina law, through statute and court decisions, lays out these factors:
- Who is the primary caretaker of the child.
- A child's preference may be considered by the judge on a case by case basis if the child is of enough maturity to express an opinion.
- Character fitness and attitude of each parent
- Psychological, physical, environmental, spiritual, educational, medical, emotional, family, and recreational aspects provided by each parent.
- Was there any domestic violence in the relationship between the parents.
- Immoral conduct of parents that are witnessed or may affect child's welfare.
- Religious practices
- Conclusion of a Guardian Ad Litem's investigation. A Guardian Ad Litem's report can't make a recommendation but does provide clear and comprehensive reporting on the fitness of each parent
Factors that the Family Court WILL NOT consider are:
- Gender of the parents
- Race of the parents
- Tender Years Doctrine (this the old law that preferred younger children be placed with the mother)
South Carolina Family Courts will begin each child custody case from a position of each parent being on equal footing. Though it may be hard to describe, a child custody decision by the Family Court may not be a rebuke of a parent, it may just be more of an endorsement of the other parent.
JOINT CUSTODY IN SOUTH CAROLINA
South Carolina Family Courts will also award joint or divided custody between two parents if it is in the best interests of the child. This a very fact specific situation though as the Family Court has shown a habit of preferring custody with one parent, or at the least establishing a primary household in a joint custody arrangement, so the children do have a familiarity with one home and one school, and so forth versus a life of constant movement between two households.
WHY DO I NEED AN ATTORNEY IN A CHILD CUSTODY CASE IN SOUTH CAROLINA
I have provided a laundry list of factors that a South Carolina Family Court will consider in a child custody case, and I can sit here and spew law and case citations all day long. At the end of the day, the single biggest factor in any child custody proceeding is how much the parents are willing to work with each other. As a family law attorney, I will be the first to admit that the only people who benefit from an extended prolonged fight over custody are the lawyers. Lawyers will fight over it, take it to court and argue it in front of the Judge until the cows come home. Then we will send the clients a big fat legal bill to cover all of that work.
I begin each child custody consult with a potential client with the same disclaimer. You do not benefit from a long custody fight, the other parent will not benefit from a long custody fight, and most importantly, the children do not benefit from a long custody fight. Sometimes the fight is unavoidable. Often though, the children become pawns in a battle between two parents who are trying to get at each other. Either through my counsel, or through mediation, all parties are best served by coming to terms on an acceptable custody arrangement. The law and the facts usually make it clear how custody should be established between the parents. My role as your attorney is to advocate for this position and begin the process of repairing the family unit. Its less stress, its reduces legal fees, and most importantly, by agreeing to custody arrangements, you avoid the unpredictability of the Family Court in applying the factors above.