Whether you are filing for divorce seeking a legal separation from your child’s other parent, custody is likely to be a significant topic of discussion in ensuing legal proceedings. However, if you go into a child custody dispute without legal counsel, your odds of achieving an outcome that serves both your and your child’s best interests may be slim.
Whether that child is your own, your grandchild, niece, or nephew, an Anderson child custody lawyer could help you fight your hardest to give them the best home possible. In addition to guiding you through initial child custody hearings and advocating on your behalf in family court, a skilled attorney at our firm could also help you seek a modification of an existing order if its terms no longer fit your family’s needs.
How Does State Law Define Child Custody Rights?
State law defines child custody in two ways. First, the responsibility of providing a safe place for a child to live and caring for their physical, emotional, and social needs on a daily basis is called physical custody. Legal custody, on the other hand, grants a parent or guardian the right to make decisions on a child’s behalf regarding their educational and/or religious upbringing, medical care, and extracurricular activities.
How parents share custody is another matter. Splitting the decision-making authority is known as “joint legal custody,” and housing the child in both parents’ homes equally is known as “joint physical custody.” When the court designates one parent as the primary custodial parent, it means they will have the child living with them for a majority of the time.
A non-custodial is usually granted visitation rights (i.e., “parenting time”) as long as their parental rights are not terminated or the child (if they are of a certain age) does not explicitly object to parenting time with one parent. An Anderson attorney could explain child custody rights in greater detail and help a parent pursue an arrangement that suits their preferences as well as their child’s needs.
How Custody Decisions in Anderson Are Made
South Carolina Code of Laws §63-15-240 lists several factors a court must take into consideration when determining what kind of custody agreement would best serve a child’s interests and ensure their healthy development. These factors include:
- The emotional and physical health of the child and their parents
- The child’s relationship with their parents
- Whether the child has already adjusted to a particular home, neighborhood, or school
- Pre-existing relationships with family members
- Each parent’s capacity to be involved in their child’s life and provide a safe and supportive home
- Whether both parents are willing to work together for their child’s benefit
A child custody lawyer in Anderson may be able to help an individual parent emphasize one or more of these factors in pursuit of a preferable custody distribution.
During a Divorce
During divorce proceedings, a parent will be chosen to have legal and/or physical custody of the child or children. This will occur alongside a decision for visitation rights, child support payments, and other responsibilities, so it is crucial to have timely and relevant responses.
Currently, default legal custody of the child in the state of South Carolina is with the mother. That’s why it’s important for unmarried fathers to establish legal paternity to secure their custody rights. Unless legal paternity has been established, an unmarried father cannot enforce any of his parental rights.
Nonparental Custody Decisions
There are two ways in which a non-parental custody decision is made in Anderson. First, if both parents have been proven to be unfit to care for their child, there is an opening for another person to fight for custody. Second, if the child is currently being taken care of by a non-parent and has a significant, positive relationship with that person, there is an opening for that person to be awarded custody.
Talk to an Anderson Child Custody Attorney Today
Child custody cases can be some of the toughest, most emotional cases handled by a local family court. Having a compassionate legal advocate by your side can be an enormous relief when you are going through a difficult custody battle. A qualified Anderson child custody lawyer could help you through this case, determine the most realistic options, and give you the support and resources you need to make the best decision. Call or schedule an appointment for skilled legal representation or practical legal counsel.