I want sole custody! But I’m not sure if I will get it. This blog will tell you how judges determine which kind of child custody is most appropriate in South Carolina.
Factors Considered by the Court
The best interest of the child is the #1 driving factor in custody cases. When determining the kind of custody arrangement, the family court judge will take nearly EVERYTHING into account.
This can include, but is not necessarily limited to: which parent is the primary caretaker; the conduct, attributes, and fitness of the parent; the opinions of third parties (such as the guardian or expert witnesses); as well as the age, health, and sex of the children; the fitness and attitude of each parent; in addition to psychological, physical, environmental, spiritual, educational, medical, family, emotional, and recreational aspects of the child’s life.
Fitness to be a parent is determined by whom has been the primary caretaker and/or whether the parent has acted in a manner detrimental to the welfare of the child. There is an assumption that custody will be awarded to the parent who has been the primary caretaker of the children unless unfitness is demonstrated or other evidence showcases that the welfare of the child will be better served by granting custody to the other parent. And although not the sole factor, the amount of time a parent spends with the child has traditionally been a relevant consideration in determining which of two parents receives custody. Immoral conduct, including exposing children to an adulterous relationship, is also a noteworthy factor. Evidence of domestic violence can also lessen one’s chances of receiving their preferred custody arrangement.
A separate issue from conduct related to a parent’s fitness to raise a child is which parent can provide the best home for the child. This can involve a wide range of questions, such as access to friends and relatives, free time to spend with the child, attitude toward the other parent, personality traits, judgment, character, availability of child care, as well as financial and physical resources. Moreover, the family court judge is entitled to hear the opinions of anyone who has relevant content to share concerning the wellbeing of children at hand. On this point, it is not uncommon for the family court judge to consider the recommendations of an expert witness, such as a child psychologist.
South Carolina family court judges also take into account a child’s preference for custody. However, the persuasiveness of the child’s testimony will be weighted by the child’s age, experience, maturity, judgment, and ability to express a preference.
If you are involved in a child custody matter and need representation or simply have general questions, call King Law today to schedule a consultation in one of our South Carolina locations. Our phones are answered 24/7. Call us anytime at 888-748-5464 (KING) or complete a consultation request form on the website and a member of our team will contact you.