If you and your spouse plan to separate and you have children, the most important issues in your case will involve their custody. If you need an initial custody determination or if you want to modify an existing custody order, then you need our experienced child custody attorneys. Each family is unique, and each has distinct custody, visitation, and child support needs and goals. As advocates for the best interest of the children, we have the skills and experience to effectively handle your case. The Charleston attorneys at Bleecker Family Law have decades of child custody litigation experience in both South Carolina trial and appellate courts. They will work closely with you, the court-appointed Guardian ad litem for your children, school teachers, therapists, pediatricians, and any third party working with the children to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your children. We are also experienced in representing third parties, such as grandparents, who have become involved as custodians and need their legal rights established. If you are fighting a custody battle, reach out to Bleecker Family Law to discuss your child custody questions.
Once a custody order has been issued by the Family Court, it may be changed by showing that there has been a substantial change in circumstances that warrant a modification of the order. This can be done by filing a complaint for modification.
Alternating weekend and holiday visitation with a non-custodial parent has historically been referred to as “standard visitation.” In crafting a visitation plan, it is important to reflect on what will work best for the Children and the parents considering routines, distance between the homes, school, work, and sports schedules, and cooperation. Each of our visitation plans is specifically tailored to your needs. For example, one family may find alternating weeks will be better for the children, another may like alternating weekends – but their weekend runs from Thursday to Monday, still others may want to rotate days 2-3-3-2.
When awarding custody of a child to a parent, the Family Court must consider the child’s best interests. Each parent has full custody rights to children born during a marriage. Mothers have custody of children born out of wedlock until a Family Court issues an order for custody. State law sets out criteria that the court should consider in determining which parent should have custody of a child:
- temperament and developmental needs of the child; and,
- capacity and the disposition of the parents to understand and meet the needs of the child; and,
- preferences of each child; and,
- wishes of the parents as to custody; and,
- past and current interactions and relationships of the child with each parent, the child’s siblings, and any other person, including a grandparent, that may significantly affect the best interest of the child; and,
- actions by each parent to encourage the continuing parent child relationship between the child and the other parent, including compliance with court orders; and,
- manipulation by or coercive behavior by either parent in an effort to involve the child in the parents’ dispute; and,
- effort by one parent to disparage the other in front of the child; and,
- ability of each parent to be actively involved in the life of the child; and,
- child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community environments; and,
- stability of the child’s existing and proposed residences; and,
- mental and physical health of all individuals involved, 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; and,
- child’s cultural and spiritual background; and,
- whether the child or a sibling of the child has been abused or neglected; and,
- 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; and,
- 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,
- any other factors that the court may consider necessary and appropriate.