Our Team Can Help Guide You to a Child Custody Agreement.
In many divorces, child custody is a central issue to resolve. Most cases can be settled with an agreement, but the agreement must then be approved by the Family Court to be enforceable as a court order. Child custody usually involves two parts: decision-making for the child and parenting schedule.
Joint Custody vs. Sole Custody
Joint custody can involve joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or both. Joint legal custody usually provides that the parents will both be involved in making major decisions about the child’s life, including education, medical, and religious decisions. Joint physical custody generally means that the child will spend significant time in each parent’s household.
In South Carolina, there is no presumption in favor of joint custody. Too often it is disruptive to school and personal schedules, and many parents struggle with communicating effectively with their former spouse. If parents want joint custody, they will have to demonstrate to a court why it is best for the child, and that they are able to work together.
When one parent has sole custody, he or she will be permitted to make all decisions for the child, without consulting the other parent, and the non-custodial parent will have periods of regular visitation with the child.
Considerations When Determining Custody
The overarching concern when the Court determines custody is the best interests of the child, separate from what may be best for each parent.
Some factors that might affect how the Court views the child’s best interest are:
- which parent has historically been the primary caretaker of the children
- each parent’s morality, as it affects the children
- each parent’s fitness, character, attitude, and inclinations
- each child’s psychological, physical, spiritual, educational, medical, and emotional needs
- each parent’s level of emotional stability
- each parent’s support network
- willingness to share transportation costs for visitation
- each parent’s education
- each parent’s parenting skills
- amount of time each parent is available to spend with the child
- the child’s reasonable preference for custody
- evidence of domestic violence
The Custody Agreement
A custody agreement will detail the parenting schedule, how responsibilities are to be shared and visitation schedules for the non-custodial parent. The details of each plan are affected by many factors, including where the child attends school, the distance between each parent’s home, and any special needs of the child.
Dell Family Law has been involved in creating many custody agreements for families adjusting to divorce. We can assist you in working out a plan with your spouse that is best for your child, as well as practical for the whole family. Please contact us to discuss your divorce and to get advice on a custody agreement that will work for your situation.