Child custody laws may seem daunting and overwhelming, but the following information is dedicated to ease some of the stress and tension often associated with the divorce process. The laws about child custody vary significantly depending on the marriage status of the partners; however, the general South Carolina law states that each parent has equal power, rights, and duties over their children; however, during a divorce or child custody negotiation this may be drastically different.
There are unique cases regarding divorce and child custody where each parent does not have equal rights regarding the custody of the child. For example, if the parents are never married than child custody rests with the mother unless the father takes the case to court. Often times, the court system tries to support parents in deciding child custody outside the courtroom; however, there are cases in which child custody is brought to court because it cannot be settled without a judge and lawyer. Once the judge makes the decision the parents are required by law to adhere to the legal order. The court system attempts to take into account the welfare of the child and place them where the judge sees best fit for their safety and wellbeing.
Child custody refers to the care-taking responsibilities of a child, including who has control over both the large and small decisions that will be made over the course of a child’s life. The powers entrusted to a parent include living situation, their daily schedule, school attendance, doctor visits, as well as faith tradition. South Carolina divorce law uniquely states that neither parent has automatic right to child custody and recommends that each parent look at his or her ability to support a child following the divorce. Parents do not need to prove that the other parent is unfit in order to receive child custody, but they have to make a case for who is best positioned to support the child on a day to day basis.
Child custody not only involves who will have oversight of the rights of the child, but it also provides that the parents settle on visitation rights for the noncustodial parent. Unless the safety of the parent or child is at risk due to domestic violence or criminal activity, the noncustodial parent will often be granted visitation rights so that they can play a role in the life of the child. South Carolina supports the presence of both parents in the child’s life for the sake of their emotional and mental development. Child support, which should also be considered in the custodial arrangement, does not directly impact the visitation rights of a parent, unless one parent fails to pay the amount decided on in court.
Unlike some states, both parents are financially responsible for the wellbeing of their child following a divorce in South Carolina. South Carolina uses a formula for child support, which takes into account the income of each parent as well as the costs in childcare, including medical and insurance costs. If an individual is noncompliant with child support payments, then the court may order that the person responsible for child support pay directly to the court clerk along with a collection fee. If a substantial income changes occur for either parent during this period the amount that was court ordered may be altered.
Each parent should have an understanding of the custodial arrangement prior to completing the divorce. If you have any questions or concerns about your divorce process you can contact Sarji Law Firm, LLC at 843-323-4341.