If you are facing a child custody battle in Greenville, South Carolina, you may have heard about the best interests of the child standard. This is a standard that judges and the courts use when parents can’t make decisions about child custody outside of court. While this standard offers general guidelines to judges, it is important that divorcing couples understand that these guidelines are very general, and as a rule of thumb, parents are usually best positioned in making decisions about what is best for their children. This is why it is often the best scenario when divorcing parents or when a child’s biological parents can reach custody decisions outside of court, with the help of their child custody lawyers. The Hayes Law Firm Upstate Attorneys, LLC are child custody lawyers in Greenville, South Carolina who may be able to help you if you have questions about where your children will live after your divorce or split and how major decisions for your children will be made if you are going through a divorce or separation.
First, before you take a child custody matter to court, it is important to understand that there are risks with bringing your child custody issues before a judge. Judges use the best interests of the child standard when making child custody decisions, but these guidelines are quite general and it can sometimes be hard to predict what judges will emphasize when making custody decisions. If you can reach an agreement outside of court, you should aim to do so. However, the Hayes Law Firm Upstate Attorneys, LLC understand that sometimes custody decisions cannot be easily reached. Sometimes issues like domestic violence or drug abuse and use complicate child custody matters. When it comes to protecting your children and your family, the Hayes Law Firm Upstate Attorneys, LLC are child custody lawyers who are on your side. Contact us today to learn more.
What is the Best Interests of the Child Standard in South Carolina?
According to the South Carolina Bar, if you are getting divorced in the state and have minor children, you will be required to submit a parenting plan. The parenting plan should include details like information about where the children will reside, when visitation will occur, which parent will make decisions for the child and how disagreements will be handled, and other details, like which child the school will attend, how the child’s medical care will be managed, and how the child’s extracurricular activities, like religious services and social life will be organized. In many cases, one parent will have primary custody of the child and will be primarily responsible for making decisions for the child, while the other parent will enjoy visitation rights. In many instances, parents can make these decisions outside of court. However, if you need to take your child custody battle to court, the courts will use the best interests of the child standard to make decisions. What factors might a judge consider?
- Child’s Choice. If the child is old enough to make decisions or to speak on his or her behalf, the child’s own choice about where he or she wants to live may be considered.
- Needs of the child and the parent’s ability to meet those needs. The court may look at the child’s unique needs and challenges and review each parent’s home situation, job situation, health, and other details to determine which parent can best provide for the child’s needs.
- Domestic Violence. If there has been domestic violence or abuse in the home or sexual violence, the courts will consider this when making child custody decisions. Ultimately, the safety and well-being of the child will be the court’s primary concern. The courts also tend to favor ensuring that a child has a relationship with both parents. This means that the courts may order supervised visitation if a parent is known to have a violent past.
- Primary Caregiver. The court will look at evidence supporting which parent has been the child’s primary caregiver. This means that if you were the parent responsible for getting your child to school, handling teacher conferences, helping your child with homework, caring for your child, including feeding and bathing and other responsibilities, you will likely be given preference by the court when it comes to child custody matters. According to the South Carolina State House, the parent who has been the primary caregiver is known as the child’s de facto custodian.
- Each parent’s willingness to support an ongoing relationship with both parents. The court generally favors arrangements where the child can enjoy a relationship with both parents. Only in rare cases of physical abuse will the court deny visitation to a parent. If one parent displays signs of trying to prevent the child from having a relationship with the other parent, the court may award custody to the other parent. Because of this factor, parents who have been the victims of physical or emotional abuse are wise to seek the counsel of a child custody lawyer like the Hayes Law Firm Upstate Attorneys, LLC in Greenville, South Carolina. If one parent puts down the other in front of the child, this can be seen as a negative factor against that parent.
- Maintaining stability. Maintaining a stable home life is important. Divorce and separation can be traumatizing for children. The courts will generally favor an arrangement in which the children can continue to go to the same school, remain in the same home, and continue to have contact with siblings and other family members.
These are just some of the factors that the court may consider when making child custody determinations. The Hayes Law Firm Upstate Attorneys, LLC are child custody lawyers in Greenville, South Carolina who may be able to help you navigate the court system if you need to take your child custody battle to court. You are not alone. Let our firm help you.