An Overview of Child Custody in South Carolina
Written by: Megan Dell
Most parents are primarily concerned with how the end of their relationship might affect child custody in South Carolina.
The first thing to consider is whether a child’s parents are married to each other. When a child is born outside of marriage, the child’s mother has sole custody of the child unless a court order provides otherwise. In contrast, when a child’s parents are married to each other, both parents have equal rights, and neither has more authority than the other until a court order determines otherwise.
There are two parts to child custody in South Carolina: final decision-making authority and parenting schedule.
If a parent has sole custody of his child, he will have the authority to make all major decisions for the child, without having to consult the other parent. These decisions include medical treatment, educational choices, religious upbringing, and extracurricular activities. Likewise, the child will likely live with sole custodian the majority of the time.
In a joint custody arrangement, there are countless ways of dividing decision-making authority and parenting time. Often, one parent will be the primary custodian, and she will be required to consult with the secondary parent prior to making major decisions about their child’s wellbeing, but if the parents do not agree on what is best for the child, then the primary custodian will have the authority to make the decision. It is also common for one parent to have the authority to make some major decisions (like medical treatment), and the other parent to have authority to make other decisions (like extracurricular activities). Determining final decision making authority in child custody situations can be very complex.
When two parents agree that joint custody is the best resolution for their children, they are likely also to agree to a more equal parenting schedule that allows each parent to spend significant amounts of time with the children.
Because child custody is so dependent on the facts of each situation, that is why it is very important to seek advice from a lawyer experienced with child custody in South Carolina.