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South Carolina Child Custody Laws: The Basics



In marriage, parents in South Carolina have equal power, rights, and duties regarding their children. However, under South Carolina child custody law, divorce can drastically change that.

In addition, if the parents were never married, then custody is solely with the mother unless the father goes to court.

Litigating custody is usually emotional and often expensive. Courts prefer that parents work out a custody arrangement between themselves. But if they cannot, then judges will make the decision for the parents, who must adhere to the judges order.

South Carolina judges deciding child custody will always look out for the best interest of the child. Even when divorcing parents come up with their own custody arrangement, the judge will review it to make sure it serves the children well.

South Carolina Child Custody

Custody means which parent has the control over the children in making the big decisions and the small ones. For example, custody includes deciding where they will live, what they will do on a daily basis, where they will attend school, when to take them to the doctor, and whether they will go to church.

Under South Carolina divorce law, neither parent has an automatic right to custody. The state bar association, a professional group of attorneys, recommends that South Carolina parents wanting custody of their children take an honest look at their situation. They should consider their new living conditions, the available time they have for their children, and if they have the resources to meet their childrens needs.

Gone are the days when mothers was presumed to be the best parent, especially for young children. In addition, parents do not have to prove the other parent unfit in order to win custody.

South Carolina Visitation

While working out a custody arrangement, you should also consider how much visitation the non-custodial parent will have. Unless the childrens safety is at risk, judges typically award the non-custodial parent visitation to support that parents role in the life of their children.

"Judges feel that the children are best off when they are reminded regularly that they have two parents, both of whom care about them," according to the South Carolina Bar Association. "A judge will usually not deny or restrict a parents right to reasonable visitation unless he finds that the visitation is bad for a childs physical, mental, moral, or emotional health."

Even if the custodial parent does not receive court-ordered child support from the other parent, under South Carolina child custody laws, he or she cannot restrict that parents visitation rights. Both a refusal to allow visitation and failure to pay child support may result in punishment by a judge.

South Carolina Child Support

Both divorced parents are considered financially responsible for their children in South Carolina. In South Carolina, child support is calculated using specific guidelines that take into consideration the gross income of the divorcing parents. Child care and medical insurance costs are used in the formula. South Carolina offers a child support calculator online.

The court may order that the child support payments be made to the court clerk, along with a collection fee, to ensure payments are made. In addition, many employers offer an automatic payroll deduction for child support payments.

The court may revisit and change child support and even custody arrangements if it can be shown that a substantial change has taken place since a judge signed off on the final custody order.