January 29, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Mothers and fathers have equal rights to custody in South Carolina
There is a perceived bias in South Carolina that family law judges are more likely to award custody to a mother than a father in a divorce case. However, South Carolina law holds that judges must decide custody in the best interests of the child, not whether the parent is the mother or father. While mothers were preferred in the past, South Carolina has repealed the "Tender Years Doctrine," the traditional law that granted preference for custody to mothers of young children.
The only exception to that is for unwed mothers and fathers. If not married, a mother is assumed to have primary custody, although the father is able to contest that in court if he so chooses. If the unwed father does contest, the court would again use the best interests of the child standard to decide child custody.
Best interests of the child
Like all states, South Carolina has enacted laws governing what judges should consider when deciding the best interests of the child. Each state has slightly different laws, however. South Carolina is somewhat unique in that the state specifically mentions religion as a deciding factor in the best interests standard. A judge is encouraged to give custody to a person or institution that is of the same religious affiliation as the parents and child. If the parents are of different religions, then the child's religion is taken into account. If the child is not old enough or capable of deciding which religion he or she is, then there is no religious preference between the parents.
Other, more common factors used when determining a child's best interest for custody:
-The child's preference, so long as the child is mature enough and has valid reasons for making that decision
-Any history of domestic violence
-The circumstances of the parents, including home, earning capabilities, potential parenting time and the lifestyles of each parent
Changes in life circumstances can mean that the best interests of a child of divorced parents are no longer the same as when custody was first decided. The loss of a job, a potential move out-of-state or a change in health can mean a modification of custody is appropriate. If there has been a significant change in circumstances such as the examples above, a parent can obtain court approval for a modification of child custody.
A family law attorney can help
There is no bright line for establishing the best interests of a child when deciding child custody. Divorcing parents should consult with an experienced divorce lawyer to discuss their situation and ensure that children are provided with the best possible situation post-divorce.
Article provided by Williams Hendrix Steigner & Brink, P.A.
Visit us at http://www.whsblawfirm.com---
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