Child Custody in South Carolina: Legal Custody & Physical Custody

A divorcing or separating couple who shares a child needs to deal with the issue of their child’s custody. In South Carolina, both physical custody and legal custody of the child needs to be considered. Parents may share both physical custody and legal custody jointly, or one parent may hold custody solely.

What Is Physical Custody?

Physical child custody in South Carolina refers to the amount of time that each parent gets to spend with their child. South Carolina family law requires parents to prepare a parenting plan in which they must outline how much time the child spends with each parent and when. There is no preference between parents when it comes to awarding physical custody of a child, and the courts often prefer that parents share their child between them in a form of joint physical custody of the child.

Presuming that it is in the best interests of the child to spend an approximately equal amount of time with both parents, the court likes to see parenting plans where parents share physical custody. However, there are some family situations where joint physical custody would not be in the best interest of the child. In such cases, the court will work to ensure that one parent is granted sole physical custody of the child, while the other parent may be granted restricted visitation rights to see the child.

What is Legal Custody?

In South Carolina, legal child custody refers to the rights of the parents to make important decisions regarding their child. Important decisions can include decisions concerning schooling, the child’s extracurricular activities, what religion the child will be educated in, whether the child needs therapy or counseling, and whether the child will receive certain medical care or treatments. These types of decisions can shape a child’s life, and many parents want to be involved in making these types of decisions concerning their child.

Many parents choose to have joint legal custody of their child, so that each parent can weigh in on how their child will be raised. Parents do not always agree on how their child should be raised, and many parents find themselves in conflict over these types of important decisions. That is why the South Carolina family courts like to see parents lay out a plan for settling such matters in their parenting plan. Parents who share joint legal custody of their child need to decide how they will practically manage any disputes that may arise concerning important decisions about the child.

Parents who cannot agree, or who cannot figure out a way to handle disputes between themselves can find themselves stripped of their legal custody of the child. The court does not like to see parents fighting bitterly over who gets to make decisions concerning the child, because all the fighting could end up hurting the child. As such, the court may choose to award sole legal custody to just one parent.

Get Help From a Charleston, SC Child Custody Attorney

Child custody in South Carolina involves both physical custody of the child as well as legal custody of the child. If you have questions or concerns about obtaining legal or physical custody of your child as part of a divorce or separation, the Charleston, SC child custody attorneys at McCoy & Stokes can help you. Contact us today.


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