When to Hire a South Carolina Child Custody Attorney

avatarby Addison Dowling FenderLast updated Jan 11, 2022Category: Custody

It’s typical for parents going through divorce or separation to experience an overwhelming sense of uncertainty. It can feel like you’re being pulled in different directions, and deciding where your loyalties lie—and what’s best for your family—is often confusing. If you’re wondering whether or not you need to hire a child custody attorney in South Carolina, take some time to think about your situation and read through our guide below. If it seems like a divorce is inevitable and you share children with your ex, schedule a consultion with a family law attorney at Fender Law Firm, who will help you determine your best course of action.

When Do I Need a Custody Attorney?

Often, both parents want what’s best for their children. However, there are always disagreements about what “best” means as the divorce process goes on. Even if your ex-spouse isn’t contesting the divorce, it is likely that you'll need legal advice from a seasoned family law attorney to get the custody agreement that is best for you and your children. But how do you know when it’s time to contact a child custody attorney? If you’re in Beaufort, SC, and you’re experiencing any of the following situations, contact Fender Law Firm today to speak with an experienced custody attorney.

You’re Worried About Your Children’s Safety

If you’re leaving an abusive relationship, your ex is trying to cut you off from your children, or your divorce involves court-ordered anger management, parenting classes, or substance abuse treatment, you should talk to a custody attorney.

You and Your Ex Live in Different States

When a custody dispute crosses jurisdictional lines, you should hire a custody attorney to help navigate the complicated legal issues involved.

The Circumstances of Your Divorce Have Changed Significantly

Perhaps one of you is getting re-married or moving away. One of the parties may be starting a new job. If the circumstances the child will be living under have changed, it’s essential to speak with a custody attorney.

Your Ex-Spouse is Working with an Attorney

If you’ve found out that your ex-spouse has hired a custody attorney, it is wise for you to contact one as well as soon as possible. 

What Legal Rights Do Fathers have in South Carolina Custody Cases?

Most people think that only mothers can have custody of their children. However, fathers have legal rights and can be granted custody. When deciding which parent should get custody of children, there are five factors that judges consider, regardless of the parent’s gender: 

1. Each parent's ability to care for and foster a relationship with their child

2. Each parent's past performance as a caretaker

3. Any existing child abuse or neglect allegations made against either parent

4. Whether one parent is trying to relocate away from South Carolina

5. Which party is more likely than not going to act in their child's best interest

The judge will consider these factors when deciding which parent should get custody. Under South Carolina custody law, parents do not have to prove the other parent unfit to receive custody. However, the law does require that judges place a priority on the best interest of the child.

At What Age Can a Child Choose Which Parent to Live With in SC?

In South Carolina, there isn't a certain age at which minors can decide which parent they want to live with. There are many factors that the court will take into account before ruling where the child will live. As they get older, their preference is taken into consideration coupled with their maturity and their basis for expressing a preference. This information comes in through the child's GAL. As a general rule of thumb, when a child gets their driver's license (age 15), it is difficult to dictate which parent they will live with, but this does not prevent the court from awarding custody to the other parent. However, it's not uncommon for custody cases involving younger children (those under five years old) to be decided by a judge rather than mediation.

For more information on South Carolina custody laws, reach out and schedule an appointment with Fender Law.

Is Mediation Required in South Carolina Child Custody Cases?

In South Carolina, you don’t have to hire a lawyer for divorce or family law cases. You can go through mediation and file court documents yourself, but you’ll need help from an attorney if you decide to file for child custody. In some cases, however, mediation isn’t required if both parties agree on custody arrangements. If the parents can amicably agree to a custody arrangement, they can proceed without intervention by mediators or judges. However, if things get contentious, or if there are other issues like visitation rights that need addressing, it’s crucial that parents hire an attorney who specializes in family law (specifically child custody). You wouldn’t want to miss something important because of inexperience.

What Constitutes a Violation of a Custody Agreement?

Many people wonder how they can get back into compliance after a custody agreement is violated. The unfortunate truth is that it’s not always possible, and it usually comes down to the relationship between you and your ex-spouse. If you have an amicable relationship, you may be able to work out new terms in private. However, if things are hostile, then court intervention might be necessary. Regardless of whether you decide to go through mediation or litigation, your best bet is consulting with an experienced child custody attorney as soon as possible.

How Do I File For Child Custody in South Carolina?

Either parent can file a custody case with the family court in South Carolina if both parents live in the state. If a parent has recently moved to South Carolina, the child in question must have lived in South Carolina for six months before a custody case can be filed. 

If the parents are not married, parents residing in South Carolina may file for custody of a child as part of a divorce proceeding or as part of the paternity proceeding. The custody part of the proceeding requires a petition that requests custody and gives reasons to grant the request. If the other parent disagrees with the petition, the family court will order both parents to attempt to reach an agreement in terms of support, visitation, and custody. Failure to agree will result in the court making the decision.

Contact an Experienced South Carolina Custody Law Attorney

Divorce can be an emotional and overwhelming process, but you don’t have to do it alone. Make sure that your children are taken care of properly by hiring the services of an experienced child custody attorney in South Carolina who can help ensure that you receive all of the legal assistance you need during this challenging time in your life.

Contact the experienced South Carolina family law attorneys by calling 843-379-4888 to schedule an initial consultation to discuss your family's options. A qualified lawyer can help you determine what type of custody arrangement is right for your family and will advocate for your best interests. 

Addison Addison

Addison Dowling Fender

At the Fender Law Firm, my wife Tracy and I are keeping alive the Fender/Dowling tradition of providing honest and effective legal services to our clients.

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