When South Carolina parents are no longer together in a relationship and share a child, child custody and visitation rights will be a major factor as they move on. In many instances, the couple can put their personal differences aside and negotiate a reasonable agreement as to which parent the child will live with the bulk of the time and when the other parent will have visitation rights. Other cases, however, can be more complicated with the parties wanting custody and disagreeing with how the visitation is allocated. A key factor in the determination is the best interest of the child. Knowing what the law says about best interest is integral to a case.

When assessing the child’s best interest, the court can consider many issues. That includes how the child’s developmental and temperamental needs are impacted; whether the parents have the capacity and ability to grasp what the child’s needs are and meet them; if the child has preferences, is mature enough to express them and what they are; what the parents want regarding custody; how the child has interacted with the parents, siblings or anyone else like a grandparent who might have an influence on the child’s best interests; and actions the parents take to encourage a relationship between the child and the other parent.

Also important is if there is behavior on the part of the parents that coerces or manipulates the child as part of a dispute between them; if there is disparagement of the other parent in front of the child; if the parents are able to have active involvement in the child’s life; how the child will adapt to the new living arrangements and schooling; if the residences are stable; the health of those involved including mental and physical aspects; what the child’s background in a cultural and spiritual manner is; if the child or a sibling was subject to abuse or neglect; if there was domestic violence or child abuse by a parent; if there was a relocation by one parent of more than one hundred miles; and any other factor that is deemed necessary to consider.

Parents who are embroiled in a dispute in which their relationship is ending might forget about the child and how vital it is for their best interests to be focused upon. The court will make certain that the best interest of the child is part of the process. During a child custody and visitation rights dispute, parents should not forget how a law firm that specializes in family law can help. Calling for advice and guidance is beneficial for all parties and should be one of the first steps taken.