How Physical Custody of a Child Is Determined in South Carolina

How Physical Custody of a Child Is Determined in South Carolina Child holds father before he has to leave.

How Physical Custody of a Child Is Determined

The custody of a child can be privately determined by the parents. However, due to emotional setbacks when custody is being evaluated, the court may step in. Child custody is divided into physical and legal custody, and both components are important in terms of the final decision. The court takes many factors into account such as the ability to care for the child, the attitude of both parents, and their eagerness to build a workable solution. 

In the end, the court’s main focus is what is in the best interests of the child. The court will evaluate what arrangement will provide a happy and safe environment for the child as well as the mental and emotional ability to grow.

What Is Child Custody?

Custody is divided into two components: legal and physical custody. It is further divided into joint, sole, or shared custody. 

  • Legal custody: This gives the parent the ability to make decisions about the child’s medical care, education, and religious affiliation. These long-term decisions are generally awarded jointly to both parents. In some cases, the court may decide that one parent is not capable of making the decisions due to such problems as drug abuse, domestic violence, or other attributes.
  • Sole legal custody of the child: This occurs when one parent is given the right to make legal or long-term decisions for the child. 
  • Joint legal custody: This is the most common type of custody and relies on the ability of the parents to work together to make sound decisions for the child.

Physical Custody

This type of custody gives a parent the right to have the child live with them. It can be shared between both parties and is called joint physical custody. Here, the child divides their time evenly between both parents. 

However, as with legal custody, the court may find that one parent is not fit to physically care for the child. On other occasions, the court will grant one parent greater physical custody than the other. When this happens, the home that the child resides in the majority of the time is considered their main or primary residence. 

What Factors Are Used to Determine Physical Custody

As with all choices when parents are seeking custody of their child, certain factors are considered by the court. In terms of physical custody, the following factors are important in the decision:

  • Primary caregiver: The court takes into account which parent has been the primary caregiver prior to the custody determination.
  • Physical needs: The court will consider which parent has the resources to take care of the child’s physical needs such as having room in the house, and providing the child with privacy and a space to sleep. The court may ask if the child will have their own room. The ability to properly nourish the child in a way that is considered healthy and to provide clothing and other items is also considered. 
  • Emotional needs: This includes parental guidance and instruction. The child must be free of emotional abuse. Witnesses may be called in to certify the parent will be emotionally supportive. The parent may be evaluated to see if they can provide a stable, loving environment.
  • Domestic violence: The parent will be evaluated for any past history of domestic abuse.
  • Community: The child’s adjustment to the community in which they would live is evaluated.
  • School: The child’s adjustment to their school environment and whether the educational facility has the level of academic learning the child needs is considered.
  • Prior custody arrangement: The court considers whether the parent requesting physical custody has been responsible for the care of the child in the past. Another consideration is whether changing the current custody arrangement would be detrimental to the child’s well-being.
  • Parental relationship: The court considers the relationship between the parent and child.
  • Health of the parents: The physical and mental health of each parent is considered.
  • Parental interaction: It is important to the court to determine if either parent will try to support the other in terms of their relationship with the child.
  • Age: The age of the child is an important element in deciding custody. 
  • The wishes of the child: If the child is old enough, their desire to live with one parent over the other is considered.

Family Law Attorneys Myrtle Beach

If you are involved in a custody challenge, the Morris Law Accident Injury Lawyers can provide you with the legal advice you need. Call (843) 232-0944 to set up a free case review. We will answer your questions and help you through the process. If it is easier for you, reach out to us online.


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