When Facing Tough Times… You Need Someone You Can Trust
Child custody can be the most emotionally charged part of a divorce. It may feel as if your world is falling apart — and now your spouse or former spouse wants to take your children away, too?
The attorneys at TMW Law understand that every client comes to us with different circumstances and different needs.
For instance, maybe both parents are supportive and love their child but need to resolve key issues. Common issues are who the child will live with, who will have the right to make important legal decisions for the child, and how visitation will work during the holidays.
On the other hand, you may be in a situation where the other parent is abusive, and protecting your child is the most important issue for you.
Regardless of your situation, there are several different custody arrangements that can be explored.
One parent may have sole physical custody — the child lives with that parent, while the other parent is entitled to regular visitation with the child.
Both parents could have joint physical custody, sharing equally in the time that their child lives with them.
Both parents could have joint legal custody, sharing the right to make important decisions regarding their child, or either parent could have sole physical or legal custody.
Whether it is decided by agreement between the parties or by the court at a trial, the decision of child custody must be driven by what is in the child’s best interest — even when the parties agree to a child custody arrangement, it is subject to review by the court to determine whether it is in the child’s best interest.
The Summerville child custody lawyers at TMW Law understand that your child’s safety and well-being is paramount, and we will do everything that is legally and ethically in our power to help you achieve an outcome that is in your child’s best interest and, hopefully, that will help your family to heal as you go through this process.
We will attempt to reach an agreement with the child’s other parent that will incorporate physical custody, legal custody, and visitation in a court order that achieves your goals and is in your child’s best interest.
If we cannot reach an agreement or if your child’s safety is at issue, we will fight to protect you and your child, gather the evidence you will need to persuade the court, and ask a judge to order a custody arrangement that reflects your goals.
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Why People Turn to Us
You may need our legal team if you:
- Need help negotiating a child custody agreement that will be approved by the court
- Are facing a child custody battle with a difficult spouse
- Are navigating complex issues related to legal custody, physical custody, and visitation rights
- Are contemplating divorce
- Need to modify an existing child custody agreement based on a change in circumstances
- Meet with you to learn about your situation and find out what your goals are
- Investigate your case to find the evidence you will need to persuade the court that it is in the child’s best interest for you to have the custody arrangement you are seeking, whether that is sole custody, joint custody, or visitation rights
- Negotiate with the child’s other parent or their attorney to reach an agreement as to child custody and visitation rights that meets your goals and is in the child’s best interest
- Try your case to a family court judge if an agreement cannot be reached or your child’s safety is at stake
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Different Types of Custody Arrangements in South Carolina?
Depending on your circumstances and what the court determines is in the best interest of the child, the possible custody arrangements may include:
- Sole legal and physical custody: The child lives with one parent while the other parent has visitation rights, and the parent the child lives with also has the sole right to make important decisions regarding the child.
- Joint legal custody and sole physical custody: Although both parents have joint decision-making power, the child lives with only one parent full-time.
- Joint physical custody and sole legal custody: Although the child alternates living with both parents, only one parent has the power to make decisions regarding the child.
- Joint physical and legal custody: The child alternates living with each parent and both parents have decision-making authority regarding the child.
There are other possibilities, including shared legal custody, where one parent makes decisions on a particular subject while the other parent makes decisions in other areas (i.e. one parent decides educational matters while the other decides medical issues).
Do Grandparents Ever Have a Right to Physical & Legal Custody of a Child?
In some situations, a grandparent may be able to ask the court for child custody, such as when the parent consents or the grandparent adopts the grandchild. In the absence of special circumstances, a grandparent does not have a legal right to custody of a grandchild.
Is Mediation Required for Child Custody Cases?
Mandatory mediation may be required in any case where there are contested issues, including child custody. If the parties reach an agreement before the mediation, they may be able to avoid the cost of a court-ordered mediator.
What Factors Does the Court Consider When Deciding Child Custody?
The court must consider the best interest of the child, but what does that mean?
SC law says that the factors determining the best interest of the child may include:
- The child’s temperament and developmental needs
- Each parent’s ability to understand the child’s needs
- The child’s preference
- The parent’s wishes regarding custody
- The child’s relationships with each parent, siblings, grandparents, or others in the household
- Whether each parent encourages the child’s relationship with the other parent
- Whether each parent involves the child in the parents’ disputes
- Whether either parent disparages the other in front of the child
- How involved each parent is in the child’s life
- Whether the child has adjusted to their home, school, and community life
- Each parent’s mental and physical health
- The child’s religious or spiritual background
- Whether the child has been abused or neglected
- Whether one parent has committed domestic violence
- Whether one parent has relocated more than 100 miles away in the past year
- Any other factor that the court thinks is necessary to consider
Are Mothers More Likely to Get Sole Custody of a Child?
Although the law used to give preference to mothers in child custody disputes, this is no longer the case. South Carolina law expressly requires that the court not consider the parents’ gender when making child custody determinations.
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