When the court hears your custody case, it weighs many facts. The court decides the case by considering what is in the best interests of your child. The court decides the child’s best interests by reviewing many factors, some of which are:
- Primary caregiver. The court will consider which parent has raised the child, or children, and the level of direct involvement and availability of each parent on a daily basis.
- The parents’ ability to understand and meet the child’s needs. The court must issue an order that it believes is in the best interest of the child, including that the child is cared for by parents who are able to meet the individual needs of the child.
- What the parents want. The court considers the custody and visitation arrangement each parent requests.
- The relationship of the child with each parent and sibling. The court looks at the family as a whole and considers the importance of the relationships with each family member.
- How each parent has supported the other parent’s relationship with the child. Parents who stand in the way of a parent-child relationship are usually frowned upon by the court. Judges like to see parents who recognize how important the other parent is to the child and support that relationship.
- Involvement of the child in the parents’ dispute. It is damaging and can be detrimental to a custody case to drag your child into your custody battle by asking your child to take sides.
- Disparaging the other parent in front of the child, or allowing others to do so. Trash talking about the other parent in front of your child places your child in an emotionally precarious situation, and courts will consider this when awarding custody.
- The stability of the parent’s home, including financial stability. A parent who is always moving or who has people in and out of the home is less likely to gain custody.
- The mental and physical health of the parents. The court is interested in a parent’s ability to care for the child and any limits on a parent’s ability, including alcoholism and drug abuse.
- Religious and cultural background. The court will consider these factors, depending on the child’s age.
- Domestic violence. Proven domestic violence in the home between the parents, parent and others, or parent and child is of grave concern to the court.
These are some pieces of the puzzle the court puts together when deciding how to award custody in South Carolina. For help with your custody case, make an appointment with Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins, P.C.