When you and your partner divorce, making a custody agreement that works for both of you can be tough. You may have distinct needs and wants, personal preferences, and your children’s needs in mind. With all these details to deal with, it’s easy to get frustrated and exhausted as your Greenville divorce case goes from an amicable split to an ugly situation in court.
Luckily, Sarah Henry Law has the tools you need to act in your children’s best interests and yours. We understand how tough it can be to deal with the stress of divorce proceedings, and we want to make your case easier for you.
Sarah Henry makes it easy to arrange a discussion with your Greenville child custody lawyer. Dealing with the end of a marriage and the beginning of a new arrangement can be tough and emotional, but we’re here to ease the strain. Don’t make a rash decision in the moment—speak with a lawyer who can help you take the right steps during this difficult time.
Greenville Custody Cases Handled in the Best Interests of Children
The most important part of the end of a relationship is the welfare of any children the two people have together. While you have rights as a parent, your focus will be on the rights and needs of your children, too. They have a right to a safe, stable, healthy home, and your custody case will be focused on providing that.
For example, you may be pursuing a sole custody agreement because you’re concerned about your child’s safety. In these cases, your Greenville child custody attorney will gather evidence supporting your case. They may seek evidence of abuse, for example, or even something as simple as proximity to the children’s school.
Below are just a few of the details your lawyer may provide the judge in court when you’re seeking custody:
Your child custody lawyer can use this information to help prove that giving you sole or joint custody with primary placement is key for your child’s well-being. For example, parents may work long hours that prevent them from being home with their children. Our clients can expect an argument for their custody rights that account for their needs and lives.
Types of Child Custody
When parents separate, their responsibilities to the children they share remain. Because of this, you need to know what types of custody are being discussed so you know what’s expected of you and what you and your Greenville custody lawyer are seeking.
Legal and physical custody of your children and the terms of that custody are separate matters. Because of this, you need to speak with your lawyer about your concerns before your trial. Understanding your options early can help you avoid disputes and set you up for success.
Legal vs. Physical Custody
In child custody matters, the importance of legal and physical custody is key. The difference can decide how often you see your children and your options for custody and care. These terms are separate matters, and you may need a lawyer’s advice on how to handle them. So what can you expect?
Legal custody refers to the rights you have as a parent to your child’s legal information and to make decisions for your children. For example, your child may not live with you, or may only live with you part of the time, but you may want to protect your right to see their school records or help make decisions about their healthcare. Legal custody grants you a say in your child’s life.
Physical custody is the actual custody of your child.
Joint vs. Sole Custody
Often, a custody agreement depends on whether both parents want custody of the child or children. Your Greenville lawyer can be key to mediating your custody agreement, or they can defend your right to custody in court if the other parent refuses to work with you.
Joint custody allows both parents to have equal physical and legal rights and responsibility to make decisions for the children, including medical, educational, extracurricular activities, and religious training decisions. Practically this usually means that the parties would need to agree on all important issues related to the child. This is not an arrangement that will work for every parent.
Joint custody with primary placement to one parent is very common in South Carolina. This arrangement allows the parents to split aspects of legal custody with one another but provides for an “ultimate” decider if the parties cannot agree on major decisions for the child, and for generous visitation for the non-placement parent. Your lawyer can help you come to an agreement about shared custody.
Sole custody gives one parent full legal and physical custody. Sole custody is usually an option where there is abuse of the partner or the child, serious alienation issues, or other risk factors for the child. The other party would usually be awarded some sort of visitation with the children.
If there are serious issues of abuse or neglect, supervised visitation or no visitation is something you should discuss with your attorney. A lawyer with experience can help you prepare your sole custody case.
How and When Do a Child’s Wishes Factor into a Custody Determination in Greenville?
But it’s not just about your wants and needs—it’s about your child’s, as well. Because of this, you need to consider your child’s wishes as you make a plan with your child custody lawyer. But when do these wishes factor into your agreement?
Typically, the judge considers the child’s age and maturity as they deliberate on a decision. If the child prefers to live with one parent over the other and is old enough to make decisions on their own, the judge may put more weight on their wishes than a much younger child.
Because of this, you and your lawyer must be ready and aware of your child’s wishes. Talk to your lawyer about how to factor in your children’s best wishes and your own wants or needs.
Factors Considered by South Carolina Courts in Child Custody Cases
Child custody cases can be complex. Divorce proceedings are a multi-step process, and ensuring you take the right steps for your child can be a strain. Your Greenville custody lawyer is key to ensuring you take the right steps for your specific case. Every child custody case is different, and you need the focus our attorney can provide.
If there are any doubts about the paternity of your child, this question may come up in the proceedings. You may be asked to prove your own parenthood, or you may seek out a paternity test from the other parent.
If a home has had police calls about domestic disputes, arrests, or other signs of violence and abuse, it will reflect on your case. Your lawyer can take action to help you prove you weren’t involved in these situations.
As you seek custody, you may also need to consider who’s allowed to visit your child and when. You and your lawyer may also need to discuss visitation rights for other family members, like grandparents, or visitation rights for the parent who doesn’t have physical custody of the child.
Frequently Asked Questions About Child Custody Issues in Greenville
No two child custody agreements or cases are alike—even agreements for one of your children may differ from other children involved. Because of this, you may still have questions about your case and how to get the best agreement for you and your children.
Below are some of the more common questions our firm receives about child custody. You can check them out below, and then you can take your case-specific questions to our lawyer, who can provide the specific details and attention your case needs.
In most cases that involve child custody or visitation, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the interests of the minor child/children. The guardian ad litem (GAL) is a lawyer or trained layperson who advocates for the rights of the child.
The guardian ad litem’s role is to investigate any allegations in the case that affect the child/children including any abuse allegations, educational issues, medical issues, as well as both parties’ home situation, and report back their findings to the court. For example, they may conduct interviews or home visits to determine whether the child is safe and happy there.
Sometimes, an initial child custody agreement doesn’t work as intended, or the situation has changed Your work hours may have changed, and there could be parental alienation issues, or abuse or neglect issues. Luckily, a child custody agreement doesn’t have to be a permanent decision.
To seek change in a child custody order, you will need to establish a substantial change in circumstances that materially affect the children. This can often be a challenging hurdle to modifying your child custody order, and your lawyer will need to file pleadings alleging the change in circumstances, schedule a court hearing, and prepare evidence for changing the order. Your lawyer can help your modification request succeed.
Parent-child relationships can be complex, and your custody agreement may reflect that. For example, the courts may rule that it’s in the child’s best interests to have visitation with the other parent, but because of the other parent’s abusive actions, unsupervised visits may not be possible.
When dealing with visitation rights, it’s best to speak with your lawyer before agreeing to anything. Your lawyer can help you make the decision that’s best for you and your children.
Do South Carolina Courts Favor One Parent or the Other in Child Custody Cases?
In the past, South Carolina once favored mothers during custody hearings due to the Tender Years Doctrine. Today, no doctrine is in practice—the court will seek to choose the parent most fit to take up the care of the child. Your lawyer can help you prove you’re the best parent for the job.
Reach Out to Greenville’s Trusted Child Custody Lawyer for a Consultation Today
When seeking out an attorney for your child custody case, you may be disappointed that a lot of lawyers don’t seem concerned about advocating for you and your child. Other lawyers may not offer the guidance or personal touch you want when dealing with something as important as custody of your children.
That’s what makes Sarah Henry Law stand out. We know you’re facing a serious case, and we provide the experience and advocacy that other lawyers may not. We’re ready to defend your parental rights as you navigate the complex areas of divorce, child custody, and other family law issues.
When you’re ready to learn more, get in touch with a Greenville child custody lawyer. Sarah Henry’s office can be reached by calling 864-478-8324 or by filling out the online contact form below.
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