Custodial agreements don’t just outline who gets to spend time with your child; they set the framework for their life. These agreements determine who picks your child up from school, who they spend holidays with, and who watches them grow up. Yet, these matters become complicated, and you want an advocate not just for yourself, but for your child, too.
Morris Law Accident Injury Lawyers works in the families’ best interests. A Myrtle Beach child custody lawyer from our team could represent you in all proceedings regarding your child custody case. We understand how important a fair custodial agreement is to your family, and we can work tirelessly to achieve a favorable outcome. Contact us today to learn more about how our attorneys can help with your case.
- Why Choose a Myrtle Beach Child Custody Lawyer From Our Firm
- How a Child Custody Lawyer in Myrtle Beach Could Help Your Case
- Types of Child Custody Arrangements in Myrtle Beach
- Can I Modify a Child Custody Arrangement in Myrtle Beach?
- Myrtle Beach Child Custody Attorneys
- Custody of children born out of wedlock, S.C. Code Â§ 63-17-20(B):
- Different types of Child Custody in South Carolina:
- Frequently Asked Questions About Child Custody in Myrtle Beach
- Contact Our Myrtle Beach Child Custody Team Today for a Free Consultation
Why Choose a Myrtle Beach Child Custody Lawyer From Our Firm
The attorneys at Morris Law Accident Injury Lawyers have handled many child custody cases. This experience lends valuable insight into how judges view these cases and how they unfold.
Here’s what to know about entrusting your legal matters to our firm:
- We offer empathetic representation: Our legal team understands child custody situations can cause a lot of stress. Because of that, we always treat each client with the compassion and care they deserve. We treat your child custody case as though it involves our own children.
- We provide aggressive counsel: There’s nothing more important than your children. So, our legal counsel reflects the gravity of your situation. We aim to stop at nothing to secure an outcome that’s in the best interest of your family.
- We do not make empty promises: When you come to our team for help with your child custody case, we can provide an honest assessment of potential outcomes. We want you to trust us and have realistic expectations.
- We offer responsive communication: If you have questions or want a status update, you can expect our legal team members to get back to you shortly. That way, you can make decisions about real-time matters, rather than leaving some things to chance.
Our lawyers in Myrtle Beach understand how contentious child custody battles can get. We want to provide the support and legal advice you need during this time.
How a Child Custody Lawyer in Myrtle Beach Could Help Your Case
Even if you have a good relationship with your child’s other parent, you should still consider hiring a lawyer. Getting a lawyer shouldn’t be seen as a threat or a way to leverage the playing field; it’s a way to make sure your custodial agreement is clear and in writing, so there’s no confusion later. It can also prevent he said, she said battles, which can also complicate matters.
When our attorneys take on your case, you can expect us to:
- Uphold your parental rights: When you separate from your child’s other parent, you still have parental rights. You have the right to make decisions regarding your child’s education, health, and religion—even if the other parent says you don’t.
- Develop a legal strategy: When the courts make decisions for the child, they look out for their best interests. We can build a case to show the custody arrangement you desire has your children’s best interests in mind. This may involve gathering evidence, consulting with childcare specialists, and otherwise combating your case’s challenges.
- Provide support: Regardless of how contentious your child custody case is, you’re not alone. We continuously provide support and ease your fears about any uncertainties. We want you to feel as though you can call at any time with your questions or concerns.
- Represent you in hearings: During your child custody case, you might have to appear at hearings. An attorney from our firm can represent you through those meetings.
Our legal team can provide a lot of value to your child custody case. We want you to feel empowered to fight for the custodial arrangement you want.
We Understand How the Law Applies to Your Child Custody Case
State laws recognize that both parents have equal rights when raising their children. Contrary to what many people believe, one parent does not inherently have more power than the other. For instance, the court will not award sole custody of a young girl to her mother just because they’re the same gender.
Before the courts make a custody decision, they evaluate various factors and decide based on the child’s best interests.
These factors include:
- The child’s preference. When the courts take the child’s preference into account, they will review the child’s age, maturity, judgment, and ability to accurately describe their preference.
- Any history of domestic violence. The family law judge will think twice about awarding custody to a parent with a history of violence. They may require supervised visits, where a parent isn’t alone with a child during their time together.
- A parent’s financial resources. To get primary custody of a child, a parent must have the financial resources to provide a safe home, food, and clothing. The court will not award custody to a parent it believes cannot provide a stable home life.
- Where the child goes to school. Many child custody battles accompany divorce proceedings. The court wants to ensure that the child’s life remains stable. So, they may award primary custody to a parent can minimize the disruption to the child’s life—for instance, a parent who lives close to their school.
Your lawyer can address or call attention to other factors not listed here. We want the presiding judge to have all the information possible to make a fair decision.
Types of Child Custody Arrangements in Myrtle Beach
The best child custody arrangement depends on your situation. There are two main agreements:
Per state law, in a joint custody arrangement, both parents have equal rights and responsibilities when it comes to the child’s:
- Dental care
- Medical care
- Recreational activities
- Religious upbringing
For many parents, a joint custody agreement is ideal. That means the child can enjoy spending time with both their parents. These arrangements can also reduce any disputes about a child’s upbringing, well-being, and future.
In this arrangement, one parent has the right to make decisions for their child. This could either be a temporary or permanent arrangement, depending on the circumstances. If you want sole custody, we must show to the judge why you’re a more fit parent.
This may involve:
- Referencing your ex’s criminal past or tendency toward violence
- Asserting your financial resources
- Asking the child for their preference (if they’re old enough to rationalize a preference)
Can I Modify a Child Custody Arrangement in Myrtle Beach?
State laws allow parents to modify their custody arrangement in some circumstances. Typically, they must prove a significant change in circumstances before the court will grant a modification.
These changes include:
- A parent loses their job.
- A parent suffers a serious injury or illness that leaves them disabled.
- A child receives a diagnosis of a chronic illness and will require ongoing treatment.
- A parent has moved to another state for a valid reason (such as to accept a higher-paying job).
- A parent is convicted of a crime.
While child custody arrangements aren’t written in stone, it’s important to treat the initial process seriously. Although you can make changes later, the court does not approve frivolous or frequent changes. It generally intends to implement long-standing custodial agreements.
Myrtle Beach Child Custody Attorneys
There is no presumption favoring mothers over fathers or fathers over mothers in South Carolina child custody laws.
As derived from S.C. Code § 63-5-30:
A mother and father are joint natural guardians of their minor children and are equally responsible for the welfare, education and upbringing of the children. The mother and father have equal power, rights and duties and neither parent has any right that is paramount to the right of the other concerning the custody and or control of matters affecting the minor children. Either parent, whether the custodial or noncustodial parent of the child has equal access and the same right to obtain all educational and medical records of their minor children. Further, they have the right to participate in their children's school activities unless prohibited by order of the court. Under SC law, neither parent should forcibly take a child from the guardianship of the parent legally entitled to custody of that child. Learn more about custody law in South Carolina from our Myrtle Beach family lawyers below.
Custody of children born out of wedlock, S.C. Code § 63-17-20(B):
Unless ordered by the court otherwise, custody of an illegitimate child is solely in the natural mother unless the mother relinquished her rights to the child. If paternity is acknowledged or proved through some other means, the father may petition the court for visitation rights or moreover, custody in a proceeding before the court apart from an action to establish paternity.
South Carolina requires the family court to determine the "best interests of the child" when deciding child custody. There is no law that requires the court to award the primary caretaker of the child custody, there is an assumption that custody will be awarded to the child's primary caretaker.
There are 17 factors for the family court to consider when determining "best interest of the child", but the court is not limited to these factors under S.C. Code § 63-15-240(B):
- The temperament and developmental needs of the child;
- The capacity and the disposition of the parents to understand and meet the needs of the child;
- The preferences of each child;
- The wishes of the parents as to custody;
- The past and current interaction and relationship of the child with each parent, the child's siblings, and any other person, including a grandparent, who may significantly affect the best interest of the child;
- The actions of each parent to encourage the continuing parent-child relationship between the child and other parent, as is appropriate, including compliance with court orders;
- The manipulation by or coercive behavior of the parents in an effort to involve the child in the parents' dispute;
- Any effort by one parent to disparage the other parent in front of the child;
- The ability of each parent to be actively involved in the life of the child;
- The child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community environments;
- The stability of the child's existing and proposed residences;
- The mental and physical health of all individuals, except that a disability of a proposed custodial parent or other party, in and of itself, must not be determinative of custody unless the proposed custodial arrangement is not in the best interest of the child;
- The child's cultural and spiritual background;
- Whether the child or a sibling of the child has been abused or neglected;
- Whether one parent has perpetrated domestic violence or child abuse or the effect on the child of the actions of an abuser if any domestic violence has occurred between the parents or between a parent and another individual or between the parent and the child;
- Whether one parent has relocated more than one hundred miles from the child's primary residence in the past year, unless the parent relocated for safety reasons; and
- Other factors as the court considers necessary.
Different types of Child Custody in South Carolina:
Yes, South Carolina recognizes different types of child custody. Many people hear the term "child custody" and think, which parent will the child live with? However, generally, "child custody" refers to which parent will make the important decisions for the child or children. This is generally referred to as legal custody. In South Carolina, our law recognizes two types of legal custody: sole and joint.
Sole custody gives a parent exclusive right and responsibility to make major decisions about the child's life, including education, religion, medical treatment, and extracurricular activities, such as sports, hobbies, camps, etc. Sole custody is generally awarded if the parents are unable to work with each other at all, or if it is show that one parent is unwilling or unable to make decisions that are in the best interest of the child or children.
Joint custody is exactly how it sounds in general terms, both parents share in making decisions about their children's lives, including education, religion, medical treatment, and extracurricular activities. However, this does not always mean that the parents must make decisions together. Example, the court can award one parent the sole decision of where the child or children should attend school while all other decisions are left up to the parents jointly. A court will generally award joint custody if the parents can show a court they are able to communicate with each other and place their children's needs over their own wished and differences. A joint custody order should dictate explicitly how the parents will communicate with each other when making major decisions for the children's lives. The order should also dictate the procedure that will be used should the parents be unable to agree when making a decision, such as mediation. This can and usually will greatly reduce the disruption to the children's lives when parents fight over the issue in court.
The amount of time that a child spends with each parent is generally referred to as physical custody. Just like legal custody, physical custody can be sole or joint. Sole physical custody is rare and is only likely when one parent is deemed unfit by the court or poses a real danger to the children. If the court awards sole physical custody to one parent, it does not necessarily mean the parent deemed unfit for custody does not get to see the child. In these situations, many times the court will order supervised visitation of the children by the unfit parent and appoint a supervisor other than the custodial parent to oversee those visitations. The more likely physical custody arrangement is known as joint custody where one parent will be the primary custodian while the other receives a right to visitation. The family court will generally determine what visitation is most appropriate for the child and the amount of visitation can vary widely from case to case. One of the primary factors a court will consider in determining the amount of the other parent's visitation is the physical distance between the parent and the child.
Frequently Asked Questions About Child Custody in Myrtle Beach
If you ever have questions about your options or moving forward, you can connect with your lawyer at any time. Morris Law Accident Injury Lawyers makes itself available to address your concerns, so you can rest easy knowing we’re advocating for you. When working on their child custody cases, some previous clients have asked us:
How Could a Parent Break a Custodial Agreement?
The family court will outline and approve the terms of the custodial agreement. If one of the involved parents breaches this agreement, the court could find them in contempt.
One may violate a custodial agreement if they:
- Engage in illicit behavior. A parent must act in a way that promotes their child’s well-being. For instance, picking up the child from school while drunk would not be seen as acting in the child’s best interest because this endangers the child’s safety.
- Interfere with the other parent’s relationship with the child. One parent may badmouth the other as a means of winning their child’s favor. Yet, the family court system seriously frowns on this, even if the accusations are true. Both parents must do everything possible to co-parent peacefully.
- Refuse to discharge the child to the other parent. If a custodial agreement sets a schedule for visitation, both parents must follow that schedule. Failure to do so could result in various consequences—some personal, some imposed by the court system.
In a perfect world, you and your child’s other parent could peacefully uphold the custodial agreement for as long as necessary. Yet, disputes can arise even between two well-intentioned people. When you have a lawyer from Morris Law Accident Injury Lawyers, we can work with your former partner to uphold your child’s best interests.
What Happens if an Involved Parent Breaks the Custodial Agreement?
Both parents must follow the custodial agreement implemented by the court. Even if they plan to appeal the agreement later, they must still follow its terms. If they violate the agreement, they could face fines, prison time, and other penalties.
It’s worth noting that not all custodial violations are serious breaches.
For instance, if a parent is 10 minutes late dropping off their child at the other parent’s house, this will likely not lead to any complications. Yet, a parent who refuses to release a child into the custody of the other parent could face kidnapping charges.
Will the Court Consider a Child’s Preference?
The court may consider a child’s preference about their living situation if the child is old enough to express such wishes.
Such preferences may include:
- How long a child visits with a non-custodial parent
- Where the child spends the most nights
- The conditions under which supervised visitations take place
- Where supervised visits happen
A judge will consider a child’s reasoning behind their parental preference. For instance, they will not award sole custody to a parent who is gone most nights and can’t provide for the child’s well-being—even if the child prefers that parent to the other.
How Long Does It Take to Work Out a Child Custody Agreement?
Our child custody lawyers in Myrtle Beach will do everything possible to ensure a smooth process. We hope to help you and your former partner work out an agreement as soon as possible. Yet, based on the complications your case could present, it could take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to get everything settled and in writing.
You can learn more about your case’s possible progression during a case review with our team. We can listen to any factors that you think could delay proceedings, then explain how we can address them.
Contact Our Myrtle Beach Child Custody Team Today for a Free Consultation
Don’t go through a child custody battle alone. Allow the attorneys at Morris Law Accident Injury Lawyers to fight for you. We can aggressively advocate for you during your entire case and help you reach a successful outcome. We know how to convince a judge that your desires have the best interests of your child in mind. Reach out to a family law lawyer.
Contact us to speak with a member of our legal team. We offer free consultations to potential clients who want to learn more about our legal services. During the consultation, you can talk to one of our child custody attorneys and learn about how we can help you. Call (843) 232-0944 today.