Under S.C. Code Ann. § 63-15-210, there are two different types of custody – physical custody, which is the parent with whom a child lives most of the time, and legal custody, which is the parent who has the authority to make major decisions in the child’s life. Beyond those classifications, custody also can be either sole custody or joint custody under South Carolina law. The exact custody and parenting time arrangement in each case is based upon what is in the child’s best interests.
Sole Legal Custody
In a case in which one parent has sole custody, that parent has the exclusive right to make all decisions that might arise in his or her child’s life, such as medical decisions, educational choices, and spiritual upbringing. The other parent has no authority to make these decisions, and the custodial parent does not need to either seek or consider the other parent’s opinions in making these decisions. In some cases, sole custody is ordered because one parent is absent in the child’s life, incarcerated, or lives very far away from the child. In other cases, however, sole custody may be appropriate because the parents are unable to effectively collaborate and make joint decisions about their child.
Joint Legal Custody
If a judge orders that parents share joint custody of a child, it means that parents generally must work together to make major decisions about a child’s life. One parent cannot make this type of a decision on his or her own or without consulting the other parent first. However, the court also may give one parent sole authority to make certain kinds of decisions or decisions involving a particular issue. For instance, if the parents have a strong difference in opinion about whether a child should attend a private or public school, then the judge might give one parent the sole right to make educational decisions for the child.
Sole Physical Custody
In a true sole physical custody situation, one parent has the child staying with him or her all of the time, and the other parent has no parenting time with the child at all. This is a rare situation that probably only arises if the parent has abused the child in some way, poses some type of danger to the child, or is incarcerated for a lengthy amount of time. The more common situation is one in which the child lives one parent the majority of the time, but also spends prescribed periods of time with the other parent.
Joint Physical Custody
Joint physical custody occurs in a situation in which both parents spend of time with their child. The child may rotate from one parent’s household to the other according to a prescribed parenting plan, or the child simply may come and go between the parents’ homes as needed. Whatever the case may be, joint physical custody only works if both parents can work together effectively and successfully raise their child.
Do Not Hesitate to Contact Us for Legal Help Today
Whether you are facing a child custody proceeding or another type of family law matter, legal assistance is essential to your ability to successfully resolve your case. Particularly in cases in which custody is highly contested, you need a well-experienced Greenville child custody attorney who can recommend the most effective strategies to use in your case. Contact the attorneys at the Elliott Frazier Law Firm, LLC, and set up an appointment to learn how we can help.