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What factors affect custody decisions in South Carolina?

On Behalf of | Aug 23, 2020 | Divorce

When making decisions about child custody in South Carolina, the court considers a variety of factors. While the state used a “tender years” doctrine in the past, meaning that younger kids were often placed with their mothers, this doctrine has been abolished in favor of other considerations.

To ensure your custody case has a successful outcome, it is important to understand all the factors the court will consider. This guide explains a few of them and how they ultimately impact child custody decisions.

Child’s preference

The preferences of the child can play a role in the proceedings. In this case, certain factors will influence the decision. The child’s age is a significant factor, as older, more mature kids are more likely to have a reasonable preference, one that aligns with their best interests. Younger kids will also be able to express their wishes as much as possible, and the court will bear them in mind when making any custody decisions.

Domestic violence

Domestic violence creates an unsafe environment for a child. As a result, this factor weighs heavily on the court, provided there is sufficient evidence to prove that domestic violence has occurred. A protection order or arrest record may be sufficient evidence to show a history of domestic violence in a household.

De facto custodian

The court may rule in favor of the de facto custodian, or the child’s primary caregiver when certain evidence exists. A de facto custodian may be named if a child is under three years old and has lived with one person for six months or longer. If a child is three years old or older, the de facto custodian is the person the child has lived with for one year or longer. In addition to caregiving, the de facto custodian must also show that he or she has financially supported the child during that period.