How do Judges in SC Determine Child Custody?

One of the largest parts of any divorce proceeding is the issue of where the child will end up, and who will be trusted with taking care of them. With this very important determination, every state is different, with their own laws and statutes that dictate the course of action. The laws in Fort Mill and Rock Hill, South Carolina have some special forms of their own.

The Child’s Well Being Comes First

In South Carolina, the mother is not immediately guaranteed custody over the child, except in the sole case of if the child is born out of wedlock, and until the court reaches a decision as to who will have custody, both parents have equal rights to the children. This is designed to minimize the exposure that the children have to conflict between their parents, and hopefully decrease the trauma they experience. Instead of automatically assuming that the mother will have custody, the desires and needs of the child are the very first concern that is addressed. Factors that go into this decision could be any of the following: developmental needs, special temperaments of a child, the child’s schooling or social environment, the preference of each child, the ability that each parent has to understand and meet the needs of the children, any kind of manipulation that a parent may have toward a child, and so forth. In addition, the religious affiliation of the child and the parents, as well as the psychological condition of the child is considered. One of the largest factors that goes into the decision is who has acted as the foremost caregiver in the child’s life up to this point. Granted, this is not the determining factor, but it is a large one that is taken into consideration. This, obviously, is not an inclusive list, as each situation is entirely different and unique. The biggest point of all of this is that the judge will decide what is best based on each of these factors, because the child’s welfare is the most important result.

Discovering the Situation

In order to determine all of this information, the court appoints a Guardian ad Litem for the child or children while dealing with the matters of the divorce Rock Hill, SC. This guardian is placed in charge of investigating the situation and determining factors such as which parents work and for how long, how the children are treated, living conditions and social environments for each parent, and so forth. This guardian is most often a law representative, but the court may choose another suitable person who has experience and/or training with children. This responsibility is not delegated lightly, as the choice that is made will have a huge impact on the rest of the child’s life.

With a factor this large in a divorce Fort Mill, SC, the court is very careful to take the child’s situation as the most important part of determining custody.

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