It is unfortunate when a South Carolina marriage ends in divorce. However, it is not uncommon as people who might have made a mistake when they married, grew apart or had other issues that necessitate the end of the marriage move on. If there are children, it adds a significant layer of concerns to the process. The child will take precedence and, in a best-case scenario, the parents will understand that and take it into account as child custody and visitation rights are determined. Understanding what factors the court will consider when making sure the child is safe and adequately cared for is a vital part of the process.

When the court decides on custody, it will do so with the presumption that there was a primary caregiver and that parent should be granted physical custody. If, for example, a mother was a stay-at-home parent, she will likely be given custody with the father visitation rights – barring any problems such as abuse. The child might have a say in the case provided he or she is deemed to be of sufficient age and maturity to have the opinion granted weight. Parental behavior can be a factor. If a parent has a history of arrests and convictions, dangerous behaviors, drug use, abuse and more, it will obviously impact the custody and visitation.

If the parents are fit, it is expected that they will seek to foster a strong relationship with the other parent. If the split was amicable, this should not be a problem. If they are at odds over marital issues that are seeping into the post-marriage relationship, this can be worrisome. The parent who gives the best home environment will be the preferred custodial parent. That is not an indictment of the other parent, but if there is one parent who has more time with the child and a better living situation, that will be good for the child. Emotional ties between the parent and child are key. The goal is to have both parents involved and immersed in the child’s life, so this will be factored in with all aspects.

The courts can gauge the situation and make an informed decision regarding custody and visitation. The child’s needs and safety are paramount. When there is a divorce and the parents are negotiating child custody and visitation rights, it is crucial to have legal help. Calling an experienced family law attorney can be beneficial from the beginning and help to achieve a reasonable solution.