Child Custody Laws in South Carolina

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Child custody laws in South Carolina are based on several different factors. Like many other states, South Carolina views the best interests of the child as the most important consideration. This means that the courts are more concerned with what's best for the child than with what either parent may want.

Whether you're considering filing for child custody in South Carolina, or you're heading off to court soon, here's the information you need most when it comes to understanding child custody laws in South Carolina:

What You Need to Know About Child Custody Laws in South Carolina 

In South Carolina, the courts weigh many factors before determining which type of child custody would be most appropriate. However, one factor is given the most weight, and that's the 'best interests of the child' standard. The court looks at all of the options, considers the facts presented, and rules in favor of what would be best for the child, given the information available at the time. To better understand what goes into deciding child custody in South Carolina, here's a list of factors generally considered: 

  • Each parent's ability to provide a safe, stable environment.
  • Each parent's relationship with the child.
  • The mental and physical health of each parent.
  • Each parent's willingness to support the child's ongoing relationship with the other parent.
  • The existing child custody arrangement.
  • The child's stated preference (upon reaching age 12 or older).
  • Any evidence of physical or sexual abuse in the home.
  • Any evidence of domestic violence in the home.

Domestic Violence and Child Custody in South Carolina

The courts take allegations of domestic violence extremely seriously. In South Carolina, the courts will only award custody or visitation to a parent accused of domestic violence if they can reasonably determine that both the child and the victim of domestic violence will be safe from harm. In order to best protect all parties, a court in South Carolina may:

  • Order supervised visitation.
  • Order a parent accused of domestic violence to participate in a counseling program as a condition of visitation.
  • Prohibit overnight visitation with the child.
  • Require a child custody bond in order to guarantee the safe return of the child.
  • Order a person accused of domestic violence to refrain from drinking or consuming drugs.

De Facto Custodian in South Carolina

In South Carolina, a court will determine whether a person may be considered a de facto custodian of a child. A de facto custodian is a person who has primarily cared for the child and has provided financial support. The custodian must also:

  • Reside with the child for at least 6 months, if the child is under age three.
  • Reside with the child for at least 1 year if the child is older than age three.

A parent who is seeking to regain child custody in South Carolina will be included in the custody proceedings and it will be determined whether the child has lived with the de facto custodian for at least 6 or 12 months. A South Carolina court may grant temporary or permanent custody to a de facto custodian.