Child Custody & Visitation

Child Custody & Visitation

Resolving custody of the children can be one of the most difficult and emotional times for parents. Custody actions in South Carolina can be filed either independently or as part of a divorce action. The standard applied in all custody actions is “the best interests of the child.” The courts consider many factors in determining the best interests of a child including the physical, psychological, spiritual, educational, familial, emotional, and recreational aspects of the child’s life. The courts will also assess each parent’s character, fitness, and attitude as they impact the child; consider the child’s preference for custody; and weigh any domestic violence. 

Custody will be divided in one of two forms: “physical” or “legal”.  Physical custody determines where the children will live and a visitation schedule will be created to ensure each parent can maintain a good relationship with the children. Legal custody deals with the rights and responsibilities of making decisions for the children, such as: where the children will attend school, what religious practice will be followed, whether the children will receive counseling and where, etc.

Additionally, there are two types of custody arrangements: “joint custody” and “sole custody.” Joint custody means both parents have equal rights and responsibilities for major decisions concerning the child. Sole custody means one parent has the right and responsibilities for major decisions concerning the child.

Parents must submit Parenting Plans to the court that will specify how much time the child will spend with each parent and which parent will make major decisions for the child, including the child’s education, medical and dental care, extracurricular activities, and religious training.

A custody action or a divorce action in which custody is contested must be filed by an attorney. When custody is contested, both parties to the action must participate in mediation. The court will also appoint a Guardian ad Litem who is an independent person that will interview parents, children, family members, friends, school personnel, and other people involved in the family’s life, as well as collect evidence regarding the children, to make a recommendation to the court as to the best custody arrangement for the child.

To provide you with the most autonomy over your family, we will make reasonable efforts to settle these matters by agreement. Doing so will allow you and the other parent to make your own custody and visitation schedule that you are comfortable with rather than having the decision made by the Court, who is not familiar with all of the details and intricacies of your work, social, and commuting schedules. If the Court has to make the final decision, it will likely result in a schedule that’s less than ideal for either parent. 

The Greenfield Law Firm has more than seven years of experience representing clients in child custody and family law related issues. Whether it’s divorce, custody, support, protective orders, or mediation, our law firm is here to help you.

We will provide you with the requisite information and guidance so that you can make informed decisions that will reflect the best interest of the children.  Contact our firm today to schedule a consultation.