CHILD CUSTODY & SUPPORT LAWYERS in Summerville
Seasoned Legal Team Serving Families in Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley Counties
At PMC Law Firm, we know that child custody and support negotiations can be contentious and painful when parents are going through divorce. Our diligent lawyers believe it is our duty to help clients deal with custody and parental rights issues to reduce the negative impact on the kids caught in the process.
The first step is making good decisions early in the process to avoid later modifications and continued stress. However, we recognize that custody issues do not end when the divorce is final and that circumstances can change, which requires court intervention.
We also recognize that non-married couples, grandparents, same sex couples, relocation, and remarriage can all complicate custody issues. That is why we are here to help you resolve any issues you might encounter negotiating your child custody and support agreement with your ex.
Call (800) 914-0620 today if you have more questions for our legal professionals regarding child custody or support orders. We will gladly review the details of your case and explain all of your options under the law.
Child Custody FAQ
How Does the Judge Decide Which Parent Gets Custody?
South Carolina law requires the family court to determine the best interests of the child in any child custody case. Although there is no rule of law requiring that custody be awarded to the primary caregiver, this is often the assumption. It is important to note that in South Carolina, the Tender Years Doctrine has been abolished, so it is no longer presumed that a mother will get custody of an infant child.
What Constitutes the “Best Interest of the Child?”
Every judge is different, but South Carolina law does list several factors a judge should consider.
These factors include:
- The temperament and developmental needs of the child
- The capacity and the disposition of the parents to understand and meet the needs of the child
- The preferences of each child
- The wishes of both parents regarding custody
- The past and current interaction and relationship of the child with each parent, the child’s siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the best interest of the child
- The actions of each parent to encourage the continuing parent child relationship between the child and the other parent, as is appropriate, including compliance with court orders
- The manipulation by or coercive behavior of the parents in an effort to involve the child in the parents’ dispute
- Any effort by one parent to disparage the other parent in front of the child
- The ability of each parent to be actively involved in the life of the child
- The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community environments
- The stability of the child’s existing and proposed residences
- The mental and physical health of all individuals involved. However, the disability of a proposed custodial parent must not be determinative of custody unless the proposed arrangement is not in the best interest of the child
- The child’s cultural and spiritual background
- Whether the child or a sibling of the child has been abused or neglected
- Whether one parent has perpetrated domestic violence or child abuse
- Whether one parent has relocated more than one hundred miles from the child’s primary residence in the past year, unless the parent relocated for safety reasons
Are We Required to Have a Guardian Ad Litem Involved in Our Case?
In most contested child custody cases, the court appoints a guardian ad litem at the first hearing or by agreements of the parties. The guardian ad litem will act as the child’s representative and advocates for the best interests of the child in all proceedings.
The guardian ad litem may:
- Investigate various aspects of the child’s life
- Speak to the parties and their witnesses
- Observe the child with each parent,
- Visit each parent’s home
Some guardian ad litems are attorneys, while others might be social workers or similarly trained individuals.
What Is the Difference Between Legal and Physical Custody?
Legal custody deals with the decision making powers for your children. For example, if you have joint legal custody, both parents have equal say in decisions such as which school the child attends, healthcare matters, religious upbringing, etc. If you have sole legal custody, you can make these decisions on your own, although consulting a co-parent is always recommended.
Physical custody refers to the person with whom the child is with on a daily basis. This is normally the custodian of the child. Joint physical custody means each parent has significant periods of physical custody (not always 50/50). It is important to note that parents might have joint legal custody without having joint physical custody or vice versa.
Child Support FAQ
While South Carolina's method of calculating child support has helped to make child support amounts a much less contentious issue, there are still questions that can arise.
Some of the common child support questions our attorneys are asked by clients include:
How is Child Support Determined in South Carolina?
South Carolina uses a formula found in the Child Support Guidelines in determining child support amounts. Child support payments are based on the "pro rata share" of the combined income of each parent. In other words, the parent with the higher income will pay a higher share of the total income of both parents.
Is Child Support Supposed to Cover All Expenses?
The child support formula is based on income, but does not have the ability to factor in additional expenses such as health care, private or special schooling, and extra-curricular activities. Your order will dictate how these additional expenses are handled and should be negotiated by your attorney.
Can I Modify a Child Support Order?
Because circumstances change, parties often seek a child support modification. Child support payments can be modified as the child’s needs or parent’s ability to pay change. Parents have the right to request a review of the support amount when either parent’s financial circumstances change. It is important not to wait until a crisis occurs, so you should contact your attorney as soon as a change is imminent.
How Long Do Child Support Payments Last?
The duty to support one’s children usually is not affected by either party’s remarriage. The obligation to support a child ends only when the child reaches the age of eighteen or graduates from high school. There are special circumstances (i.e. children with special needs) where the court may order support beyond this period.
Let Us Negotiate Your Child Support & Custody Agreement Today
Do you have more questions about child support or custody laws in South Carolina? Then visit our family law firm today to discuss your case with a dedicated legal professional at PMC Law Firm. We proudly serve clients throughout the greater Summerville area, and our legal team is prepared to put our skills to work for you today.
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