Child Custody

Child Custody in South Carolina

For many, determining custody of your minor children can be the most difficult part of the divorce process. Not only is a custody determination a complex legal matter, but the process is often emotionally difficult as well, with both parents deeply concerned about their children’s well-being. As a firm founded in a “family first” philosophy we understand the importance of being advocates for you and your children, as fearless problem solvers both inside and outside of the courtroom.

South Carolina law has no presumption favoring mothers over fathers or fathers over mothers in child custody cases.[1] Like many states, it abolished the Tender Years Doctrine,[2] which previously gave preference to a parent on the basis of gender. Family law courts and child custody laws will always strive to uphold the best interest of the child above all else when deciding issues of custody, support and visitation. Child custody is defined in two different ways:

  • Legal Custody refers to the right and responsibility to make major decisions regarding the minor child’s life, including medical, educational, and religious decisions.
  • Physical Custody refers to the right to have physical possession of the child, which includes caretaker responsibilities such as providing them with food, clothing and shelter.

There are four primary terms used to describe physical custody: sole custody, shared custody, primary physical custody, and split custody.

  • Sole Child Custody is an alternative to joint custody where one parent is granted either all of the decision making rights (sole legal custody) or all of the physical parenting time (sole physical custody) with the other parent being excluded completely.
  • Primary Physical Child Custody refers the home where the child resides for the greater amount of time and the home that is in the child’s school district. It is the residential address of the child for educational, tax and mailing purposes.
  • Split Custody is an arrangement where the children are separated between the two parents. This means that some of the children reside with one parent while the other children reside the other parent.
  • Shared Custody or Joint Custody is an arrangement where the child is “shared” between the two parents

How is Custody Decided in South Carolina?

At the onset of a child custody case the court makes initial decisions regarding custody using the “best interests” standard. As the custody determination goes on, the Court considers a number of factors, including but not limited to:

  • The temperament and developmental needs of the child
  • The wishes of the parents as to custody
  • The capacity and the disposition of the parents to understand and meet the needs of the child
  • The preferences of each child
  • The interaction and interrelationship of the child with parents, siblings, and others who affect the child’s best interest.[3]

Modification of a Custody Order

In South Carolina, the family law court has the power to modify a previous court order of custody. In the event that either parent seeks to change or modify an existing custody order, they must then prove three things to the family court:

  1. A material change in circumstances
  2. The material change in circumstances happened AFTER the initial family court custody order;
  3. The material change substantially affects the child’s best interests.

Dedicated, Compassionate, and Tenacious Child Custody Attorneys

At Sodoma Law South Carolina our foundation in family law gives us unique and valuable insight into the practice of , child custody, and other family law issues. Our attorneys can work with you to advocate, negotiate and litigate custody matters. We have both the stamina and skill to fight when necessary, but our focus is always on our clients’ needs and what is best for them and their families.

Whether you are faced with an initial custody determination or modification of custody, you do not need to handle it alone. The attorneys at Sodoma Law York work with clients all throughout South Carolina, and we look forward to serving you and your family as well. Please contact us for more information.

Reach out to our family law attorneys by filling out the form below, or use the menu to the right for more information on our specific family law services.

[1] S.C Code 63-5-30
[2] S.C. Code Ann 63-15-10
[3] S.C. Code 63-15-240 (B)


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