Family court judges are the decision makers in regards to child custody, and it is never an easy decision to make. There are a variety of factors that will influence the court’s decision on how and where your child(ren) will spend their time and how major decisions will be made in regards to the child(ren). The goal of the court is to create the best possible outcome for your child(ren).
To ease the process, parents are encouraged to have a proposal for custody when filing for divorce. McCoy & Stokes will help ensure that you are treated fairly in the process and keep the best interests of the child as the primary consideration during out the child custody proceedings.
This is the right to have actual possession of the child. Along with physical custody comes the responsibility of caretaking and providing basic needs such as shelter, food and clothing.
Legal custody refers to the parent’s right to make important decisions in a child’s life, such as schooling, medical care, religion and housing. When only one parent takes on one of these responsibilities, it is deemed “sole physical custody” or “sole legal custody.” When only one parent takes on both of these responsibilities, this is simply referred to as, “sole custody.” However, parents often choose joint custody for physical custody, legal custody, or both.
Often parents opt for joint physical custody, which allows both parents to spend time with the children. This time of visitation may not be shared proportionately. For example, one parent may only have physical custody of a child every-other-weekend, certain days of the week or seasonally (e.g. summer). Joint legal custody likewise allows for both parents to make important decisions about a child’s upbringing. This means communication is essential between the two parents. If making joint decisions with a former spouse may be an issue, then you may want to file for sole legal custody. If you believe your former spouse is an unfit parent because of a physical threat such as previous child abuse, you may want to apply for sole physical custody. However, if two former spouses choose to share both legal and physical custody, this is referred to as “joint custody.”
Each of these options can be paired with another. Sole physical custody and sole legal custody may be awarded separately, allowing for sole custody in one regard and joint custody in another. For example, a couple may share physical custody, but only one parent has legal custody. In this case, both parents are allowed to spend time with the children separately and assume the responsibility of physical custody, while only one parent will make important decisions for the children under sole legal custody.
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Spending time with your children is an important part of their upbringing and your personal happiness. In the case of unwed parents, each has certain rights that require no legal intervention, given proven paternity/maternity. Parental rights include decision-making, nurturing, discipline, etc. that fall under both the physical and legal responsibilities of being a parent. In the case of divorce, this is usually resolved in family court, but if the parents are unwed, these rights are assumed to be the mother’s in the state of South Carolina. Regardless of the courts decision, parents are expected to uphold these rights. To ensure you are granted and continued legal visitation rights, be sure that you are communicating with your former spouse, paying child support and creating a child-safe environment for when your child(ren) visit. This is a sensitive and often complex situation. To be certain that you are awarded what you are requesting, seek legal help.
To learn more about child custody and parents’ rights, contact McCoy & Stokes today at (843) 628-2855 to schedule your consultation with experienced Charleston family lawyers.