Laws Governing Child Custody in South Carolina

By Heather Frances J.D.

Divorcing spouses in South Carolina who agree on how to split custody of their child are free to come up with their own parenting plan that suits their needs and the needs of their child. As long as a South Carolina court finds the plan to be in the child’s best interests, the court will adopt the plan as part of the divorce decree. If spouses cannot agree, the court will create a custody plan for them according to the child’s best interests.


Like other states, South Carolina recognizes both legal and physical custody, and South Carolina courts can award either type as sole custody or joint custody. Legal custody refers to a parent’s right to make important decisions about their child’s life, such as where he goes to school and whether he receives religious training. Physical custody refers to the amount of time each parent spends with the child. When a court awards sole custody, only one parent has the rights granted; when joint custody is awarded, parents share the rights granted. For example, if the court awards joint legal custody, both parents have the right to make important decisions for the child.

Best Interests

When making custody decisions, South Carolina courts look at the best interests of the child, not the parents. To determine what arrangement is in the child’s best interests, South Carolina courts consider many factors, looking at any relevant information that impacts the child’s life. These factors include the fitness of the parents, parents’ moral conduct, any history of domestic violence, financial and educational resources of each parent, age of the child and his preferences, and opinions from experts, such as mental health professionals.

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When one parent, called the custodial parent, is awarded sole or primary physical custody of a child, the other parent has a right to spend time with the child; this is known as “visitation.” Typically, South Carolina's standard visitation schedules offer the noncustodial parent every other weekend with the child, along with portions of holidays and summer vacation. The visitation schedule establishes a noncustodial parent’s rights and the custodial parent cannot interfere with the court-ordered visitation schedule.

Modifying Custody

South Carolina courts award custody based on the family’s circumstances at the time of the divorce, but those circumstances may change as the divorced spouses establish their separate lives. Unlike many other court orders, custody orders can be modified if there has been a substantial change in circumstances. To modify a custody order, a parent must file a new case in the appropriate court, usually the court that issued the original custody order, and request modification of the pre-existing custody terms. The judge will determine if there has been a significant change in circumstances and, if so, determine a new custody arrangement according to the best interests of the child.

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How to Determine Who Will Win Child Custody


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Wyoming Child Custody Law

Wyoming understands that divorces run smoothest when spouses are amicable and able to work together, especially when it comes to children of the marriage. For that reason, Wyoming permits divorcing spouses to create a parenting plan on their own, choosing a custody arrangement that works best for their family and its unique dynamic. If the court finds the plan meets the child's best interests, the court will approve it and incorporate it into the divorce decree.

Custody and Visitation of Toddlers

When spouses divorce, they must decide how to split custody of their children, including setting a visitation schedule so each parent gets to spend time with the children. If the parents cannot agree on custody and visitation arrangements, the court will make these decisions for the parents. Though the process is generally the same for all children, toddlers may need special consideration because of their young age.

How to Create a Child Custody Plan

Custody battles can be highly stressful for both parents and children. Creating a custody plan on your own is an excellent way to avoid this stress and ensure the custody plan works well with your lifestyle. Judges and lawyers can't understand your life and children as well as you do, so working together with your spouse to create a custody plan that works can be better for you and your children.

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