McManaway Law, LLC
More Than A Decade Helping People In Greenville

Dealing With A Child Custody Issue?

Some of the most contentious divorce disputes in South Carolina center on child custody. These disputes may stem from honest disagreements about what's best for the children or parents trying to spite each other. Whatever the reason behind them, child custody disputes can stall divorce proceedings, increase expenses for the parties and, worst of all, hurt the children by putting them in the middle.

At McManaway Law, LLC, I understand what's at stake, but I take care to pursue your goals reasonably and professionally. As your attorney, I employ effective strategies and present creative solutions that move negotiations past tough impediments. I've had great success in negotiating mutually beneficial agreements, but if your case requires aggressive litigation, I have the experience and the skill to protect your parental rights in court.

Understanding South Carolina Child Custody Law

In South Carolina, either parent can request child custody. Custody can be joint, meaning both parents have equal rights and responsibilities, or solo, so that one parent has, in the words of South Carolina Children's Code §63-15-210: "the rights and responsibilities for major decisions concerning the child, including the child's education, medical and dental care, extracurricular activities, and religious training." The court considers the totality of the family's circumstances in deciding what is in the best interests of the child.

Custody Vs. Parenting Time

Custody is different from parenting time, which refers to how and when the child spends time with a parent, either living in the parent's residence or spending scheduled time together in what used to be called visitation.

In a divorce involving minor children, each parent must submit a parenting plan, asking for a division of custody (decision-making authority) and parenting time (physical custody and/or visitation). The parents may also submit for the court's approval a joint parenting plan they have negotiated themselves. Parenting time is one of the factors the court uses to determine whether a parent should pay child support, and if so, how much.

Modifications Of Parenting Plans

When you have growing children, you can expect to revisit your parenting plan fairly frequently to make adjustments based on the changing schedules of everyone involved. You can make some adjustments by informal agreement without a lawyer or going to court, with the risk that the original order remains enforceable until a court formally approves a modification.

However, you must bring certain circumstances, especially those presenting a danger to the child, to the court's attention as soon as possible. These include:

  • Changes in a parent — If a custodial parent develops health problems, mental illness or addiction, he or she may not be capable of caring responsibly for the child.

  • Changes to a parent's environment — If a noncustodial parent moves to an area considered dangerous or begins cohabitating with people of questionable moral character, it may not be in the child's best interests to allow visits or sleepovers.

  • Relocation — When a custodial parent wants to move with the children at a distance that burdens the other parent's parenting time, the court can block the move or rework the parenting plan to allow for time sharing at the two homes.

When you have to go to family court for a parenting plan dispute, I provide the strong representation you need to enforce your rights and protect your children.

Contact Me For Help

If you are contemplating divorce or separation and you have minor children, I can help. My firm offers reasonable retainers for divorce cases. To schedule an appointment, call 864-283-6040 or contact my Greenville office online.

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