Child Custody and Visitation Rights Attorneys in York County, South Carolina

Family law is not a light topic. In the event of a separation or divorce, child custody and visitation rights become a paramount concern for parents.

At Duncan and Nobles LLC, we prioritize the well-being of your children while protecting your rights as a parent. Our approach is centered on finding the best possible solution for your family’s unique situation.  

We care about providing specialized attention and are ready to use our knowledge to navigate your legal needs. With Duncan and Nobles, LLC, you can rest assured you're in good hands.

Types of Custody in South Carolina 

Understanding the different types of custody is critical for parents going through a separation or divorce in South Carolina. Custody can be categorized into two main types: legal custody and physical custody.

Within these categories, custody can further be distinguished as either joint or sole. Here’s a closer look at what each type entails: 

Legal Custody:  

  • Sole Legal Custody: One parent has the exclusive right to make significant decisions concerning the child's welfare, including education, healthcare, and religious upbringing. 

  • Joint Legal Custody: Both parents share the responsibility and authority to make important decisions about their child’s life. This requires a cooperative effort and communication between the parents. 

Physical Custody:  

  • Sole Physical Custody: The child resides primarily with one parent, while the other may have visitation rights. The custodial parent provides the day-to-day care for the child. 

  • Joint Physical Custody: The child spends significant time living with both parents. This arrangement requires parents to live relatively close to each other and to effectively communicate about the child's needs and schedules. 

Joint physical custody aims to ensure that the child maintains a stable and meaningful relationship with both parents to promote their overall well-being and development. This setup, however, demands a high level of collaboration and flexibility from both parents to make the arrangement work seamlessly for the child's benefit. 

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What Factors Determine Custody in South Carolina 

When determining child custody in South Carolina, the courts prioritize the child's best interests and welfare above all else. Several factors are considered to ensure the most suitable and beneficial arrangement for the child. Below are the key factors that influence custody decisions under South Carolina law: 

  • The Child's Preference: Depending on the child's age and maturity, courts may consider the child's own wishes regarding with whom they prefer to live. Typically, more weight is given to the preferences of older, more mature children. 

  • The Relationship Between the Child and Each Parent: Courts examine the strength and nature of the child's relationship with each parent, including who has been the primary caregiver and the depth of emotional bonds. 

  • The Parental Behavior and Morality: The conduct of each parent is scrutinized, with particular attention to behaviors that could impact the child's welfare. This includes substance abuse, criminal activities, or any form of domestic violence. 

  • The Mental and Physical Health of Parents: Both the physical and psychological well-being of each parent is considered, as it can directly influence their ability to provide a stable and nurturing environment for the child. 

  • The Adjustment to Home, School, and Community: The courts look at how well the child is adjusting to their current home environment, school, and community, and how a change in custody might impact these adjustments. 

  • The Ability of Each Parent to Provide: This encompasses each parent's capability to offer the child love, affection, guidance, and the necessities of life, including education, healthcare, and spiritual development. 

  • The Willingness to Co-parent: Courts prefer arrangements where both parents are willing to actively cooperate and communicate regarding parenting responsibilities. A parent's ability to encourage and facilitate a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent can influence custody decisions. 

  • Any History of Domestic Violence: South Carolina law requires courts to consider any history of family violence and its potential impact on the child, with safety measures put in place to protect the child and the victimized parent. 

These factors, among others presented during the custody proceedings, help the court in determining which type of custody arrangement—sole or joint, legal, and physical—will best serve the interests of the child. South Carolina courts strive for decisions that support and enhance the child's emotional and physical well-being, ensuring a stable and healthy environment post-divorce or separation. 

The Custody and Visitation Process 

Understanding the process for determining custody and visitation rights can empower parents as they make these important decisions for their children’s futures. Here is an overview of the process: 

  1. Petition for Custody and Visitation: The process begins when one or both parents file a petition with the family court, seeking to establish or modify custody and visitation arrangements. 

  1. Mediation: Like in divorce proceedings, South Carolina encourages parents to go through mediation to reach an agreement on custody and visitation. Mediation allows parents to work out arrangements in a less adversarial setting, focusing on the best interests of the child. 

  1. Parenting Plan: During mediation or through negotiations, parents are encouraged to develop a parenting plan that details custody, visitation schedules, and how decisions regarding the child will be made. 

  1. Court Evaluation: If parents cannot reach an agreement, the court will evaluate the situation based on the child’s best interests, considering various factors and, in some cases, input from child psychologists or custody evaluators. 

  1. Issuance of a Custody Order: After reviewing all relevant information, the court will issue a custody order that establishes custody and visitation rights, setting forth the terms and conditions that govern the parents’ roles and responsibilities. 

Child Custody FAQ 

Navigating through child custody matters can be emotionally challenging. In our Child Custody FAQ section, we aim to answer some of the most frequently asked questions, providing clarity and guidance to help you understand the essentials of custody law in South Carolina. 

What is the biggest mistake in a custody battle? 

The biggest mistake in a custody battle is allowing emotions to drive decisions rather than focusing on the child’s best interests. This can manifest as speaking negatively about the other parent in front of the child, attempting to manipulate the child’s feelings towards the other parent, or refusing to cooperate and communicate effectively with the other parent regarding the child's needs.

These behaviors not only damage the parent-child relationship but can also adversely affect the court's perception of your ability to provide a supportive and stable environment for the child. 

When can you deny visitation to the non-custodial parent in South Carolina? 

In South Carolina, visitation rights can only be denied if the court finds substantial evidence that such visitation would endanger the child’s welfare or well-being. If a parent believes that their child is in danger or that the visitation terms need to be revised for the child's safety, they must seek a court modification of the visitation order.

Simply put, one cannot unilaterally deny visitation without court approval; doing so can lead to legal penalties. 

Do I have a right to know who my ex brings around my child? 

While there is no specific law that grants a parent the absolute right to know who their ex-spouse introduces to their child, concerns about the child’s safety and well-being are always valid.

If there are genuine concerns about the people your ex-spouse is bringing around your child—such as issues related to safety, stability, or exposure to inappropriate behavior—you can address this through legal channels by requesting modifications to custody or visitation orders that specify conditions or restrictions. 

How can a father get visitation rights in South Carolina? 

In South Carolina, a father can obtain visitation rights by establishing paternity and then petitioning the family court for custody or visitation. If the parents are unmarried, paternity must first be established either by both parents signing a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment form at the hospital at the time of birth, or later through the court.  

Once paternity is established, the father has the same rights to seek custody and visitation as the mother. The court will determine visitation based on the child’s best interests, considering various factors to ensure that the visitation plan supports a healthy relationship between the father and the child. 

Can the custody arrangement be changed after the divorce is finalized? 

Yes, custody arrangements can be modified post-divorce in South Carolina. To alter a custody order, the parent requesting the change must demonstrate that there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the original order was issued and that the proposed modification is in the child's best interests. Such changes might include relocation, a significant change in one parent's living situation, or a change in the child’s needs. The court will then reevaluate the custody arrangement under the current circumstances, always with the child’s best interests as the primary consideration. 

The Role of a Custody Attorney in Your Case

At Duncan and Nobles LLC, we’re dedicated to helping York County families, including those in Fort Mill and Rock Hill, and also extend our services to Chester County and Lancaster County. For parents facing the challenges of navigating child custody and visitation rights, our detailed understanding of the law and commitment to family-first solutions provide reassurance. Contact us today to safeguard your parental rights and foster the best interests of your children.