20 Jul Obtaining Full Custody of a Child in South Carolina
Some parents may be unfit to raise their own children, but in the eyes of the law, parents have a right to raise their children as they see fit. When one parent believes that the other should have no part in childrearing due to a danger to the child, getting full or sole custody of the child can become an imperative. But this is easier said than done. Courts are hesitant to cut a parent out of a child’s life. Even if a parent may be hostile and abusive outside of the courtroom, when it comes time to be examined by a court, they may act as rational and amicable as can be. Here are a few guidelines to help you better understand the process of gaining full custody of a child in South Carolina.
Best Interests of the Child
South Carolina, like almost all states in the United States, awards custody of a child based on the best interests of the child. The best interests of the child standard is not a definitive standard. It considers all relevant factors including but not limited to:
- Who has been the primary caretaker up until that point
- The mental and physical health of all parties involved
- History of domestic violence, neglect, drug/alcohol abuse
- Employment situation of the parents
- The temperament and developmental needs of the child
- The ability to provide a stable household for the child
Under South Carolina law, a family court judge is required to consider all available options when determining custody arrangements, whether that be joint custody, sole custody or a situation somewhere in between the two. There is no preference in South Carolina as to whether joint or sole custody is better.
Some Factors are More Important than Others
While all factors are considered when awarding child custody, sole or otherwise, certain factors may stand out more to a judge who must make the final decision. A parent who has neglected or abused a child in the past has a history of violence, or struggles with drug or alcohol addiction may not be fit to raise a child. If a parent is physically or mentally unable to take care of themselves, it is unlikely that a family court judge would consider granting custody to that parent. A parent with a criminal history will also be less likely to get custody of a child, sole or otherwise.
Proof of Unfitness is Key
The real struggle in getting sole custody is proving to the court that the other parent is unfit to have even partial custody of the child. Many character flaws and traits displayed by one parent are only ever revealed to the child and the other parent. When this is the case, the battle in child custody cases devolves into a ‘he said she said’ situation, with one parent accusing and the other denying.
Courts are very reluctant to have a child testify against their parents in court, and even interviewing a child is a step that many judges are reluctant to take. Therefore it is important that outside independent proof of a parent’s unfitness to raise a child to be found if you are attempting to gain sole custody. The most reliable proof of a parent’s wrongdoing consists of official records; indeed, police reports, arrest records, medical records and government documents are essential for proving that a parent is unfit to raise a child.
Contact Experienced South Carolina Family Law Attorneys Today
Failing to get these official documents does not necessarily mean that you will be unable to obtain sole custody of a child, nor does having these documents mean that a court may find that one parent is unfit to even have joint or partial custody of a child. Child custody cases are some of the hardest cases to win, and they can take an emotional toll on everyone involved.
Having experienced representation can help make the child custody process easier and increase the likelihood of a positive outcome. If you are going through a child custody case and are in the greater Charleston, South Carolina area, contact the family law attorneys at Klok Law Firm LLC. We have years of experience in helping parents get the best outcome possible in their case.