Child custody is one of the most difficult issues in any South Carolina divorce. This is true personally and emotionally. Often, both parties will want to have custody of a child and the state has laws in place that are designed to consider child custody and visitation rights for the parents as well as what is in the child’s best interests. As the process begins, the parents should be cognizant of the law and act accordingly while simultaneously factoring in how every decision might impact the child. Having legal advice is a critical factor in these cases.

When determining child custody and visitation, the judge will assess the child’s needs; how the child is adjusting to the new situation with a focus on how far one parent’s residence is compared to where the child’s primary residence is; if the parents can meet the child’s needs and have an active role in his or her life; what the parents’ custodial desires are; the relationships between the parent and child as well as others in the child’s life; the health of all parties; if there is negative behavior on the part of the parents when it comes to the other parent; if there is abuse; and other factors that the court believes are important.

In the state, there is the chance that joint custody will be awarded. Grandparents can seek and receive visitation rights. Children can have their wishes considered if they are of sufficient age and maturity. In general, the judge will ask the child what he or she wants in terms of living arrangements. The decision will generally not be made solely on the child’s wishes, but a judge can consider it when deciding.

In just about every case, the parents will be focused on the child’s best interests. However, the complicated nature of a child custody dispute can lead to contentious disagreements and long-term disruption in the child’s life. When embroiled in a disagreement over child custody and visitation rights, it is key to have legal advice from the beginning. A law firm that specializes in South Carolina family law should be called for help from the start.