Under South Carolina law, judges make child custody determinations based on the best interests of the child. There are a number of different factors that judges consider in deciding what custody and visitation plan is best for the child. Once a judge issues a custody and visitation order, it cannot be changed unless you can prove that there has been a material change in circumstances that requires the existing order to be changed. As a result, it is essential that you are represented by an experienced South Carolina child custody attorney who knows how to build a strong case for you.
Factors that Affect a Child’s Best Interests
Every custody case is different, and every family’s circumstances are different, as well. This means that the outcome of one custody case can be completely different than the outcome in another case. Nonetheless, there a number of common factors that judges must consider in making custody decisions that are in the child’s best interests. Pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 63-15-240, these factors include the following:
- Temperament and developmental needs of the child.
- The capacity of each parent to meet the child’s needs, which can relate to a parent’s physical, mental, and financial situation;
- Wishes of the parent and preferences of the child.
- The actions of each parent, particularly if he or she disparages the other parent, undermines the relationship between the child and the other parent, or places the child in the center of the parents’ custody dispute;
- The past and current interactions between the child, parents, siblings, grandparents, and anyone else who significantly impacts the child’s best interests;
- Ability of each parent to be actively involved with child.
- The child’s cultural and spiritual background;
- A history of domestic violence between the parents or child abuse by a parent;
- Past abuse or neglect of the child or a sibling; and
- The child’s overall stability in both the current and proposed residence, school, and activities.
- Whether one parent has relocated more than 100 miles from the child’s primary residence in the past year unless relocated for safety reasons.
Additionally, if a child is of an age that he or she can voice his or her preferences, the judge can consider the child’s wishes in making a child custody determination.
The Parents’ Relationship and Child Custody
As you may have noticed from the factors listed above, South Carolina law places an emphasis on the relationship between the parents in determining the best interest of the child. In a child custody case, the court is likely to consider how well a parent tries to get along with the other parent when it comes to communicating about the child. If a parent badmouths and puts down the other parent in front of the child, refuses to communicate information about the child’s schedule or activities to the other parent, and/or fails to encourage a healthy relationship between the other parent and the child, the court will not see such behavior in a positive light. In fact, these actions could even tip a custody determination in favor of the other parent, particularly if the parent’s actions are extreme in nature.
Contact Your Greenville Child Custody Attorney for Advice
The attorneys at the Elliott Frazier Law Firm, LLC represent clients in child custody cases and other kinds of family law matters in Greenville, Spartanburg, Oconee, Anderson, and Pickens. No matter how complex or difficult your custody case may be, we have the experience and skills necessary to building a strong custody case on your behalf. Contact our office at (864) 214-3621 today to set up an appointment with one of our South Carolina child custody lawyers, and learn how we can help you with your legal matter.