South Carolina Parenting Plans and Custody Agreements
This article covers custody agreements in South Carolina and gives guidelines on creating an effective parenting plan for South Carolina courts.
In South Carolina, you can write up your own parenting plan (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own agreement, you can use the Custody X Change software.
Custody X Change is software that creates professional parenting plan documents and parenting schedules.
The laws about domestic relations in South Carolina are in Title 20 of the South Carolina Code of Laws. The domestic relations laws have the information about divorce and child custody matters for the state.
By learning about the domestic relations laws, you will develop an understanding of what to expect from the court and what the court expects from you.
When parents divorce or separate, they need to come up with a plan that shows the court how they will continue to provide physically, emotionally, and mentally for their children.
You can do this be creating a child custody agreement that outlines each parent's responsibilities and duties toward the children. Your agreement can then be accepted by the court as the official custody order.
Ultimately, in all South Carolina custody cases, the Family Court Judge has the final decision on all child custody matters.
Section 20-3-160 in the South Carolina Code of Laws informs divorced and separated parents that the court of South Carolina can make orders about the care, custody, and maintenance of the children.
These orders will always be made according to the best spiritual as well as other interests of the children.
Yes. The court prefers that parents work together and create a parenting plan on their own.
You can make a parenting plan / custody agreement that shows how you would like to share and divide the care, custody, and maintenance of your child and the court has that authority to make that agreement into the custody order.
After your agreement is complete, you will need to submit it to the court for approval. If you want the court to adopt your custody agreement, you must make it in the best spiritual and other interests of your child.
One of the first things to consider for your agreement is what type of custody arrangement you want to have with the other parent. Here are some common options for custody:
- Joint legal and joint physical custody: In this custody arrangement both parents have rights and responsibilities to make decisions for the child and they both spend significant amounts of parenting time with the child.
- Joint legal and sole physical custody: This is when the child lives with one parent and visits the other parent, but both parents have the right and responsibility to make important decisions for the child.
- Sole legal and joint physical custody: One parent is given the authority to decide all important matters concerning the child but the child spends time living with both parents.
- Sole legal and sole physical custody: One parent makes the decisions about the child and the child also lives with that parent and has visitation to the other parent.
The type of custody you choose for your arrangement depends very much on what is best for your child and what will work for your situation.
It's important to focus on what will benefit your child in the long run and to not get caught up in the negative emotions of the present. This means that you shouldn't use your child or the custody agreement to get back at the other parent because of the divorce.
It may be difficult, but you really need to set aside your personal feelings toward the other parent and try to come up with a parenting arrangement that allows your child to have a happy life (of course, if you come from a situation with abuse or violence, it is not in your child's best interest to continue to be exposed to that).
Once you decide if you have a joint custody agreement or sole custody agreement you need to work out the details of how it will work.
This means that you need to clearly spell out how you will make decisions for your child:
- Will you have to agree on every decision?
- Is each parent in charge of specific areas?
- Does one parent make all of the decisions?
You also need to come up with a detailed custody and visitation schedule that shows the parenting time during the week, on weekends, during holidays, on vacations, on school breaks, etc.
To make your agreement really personalized to your child, you can add any additional information that fits your situation. You may include any rules and regulations that help the custody agreement work better such as:
- How to handle any special health needs your child may have
- Methods for resolving disputes
- Stipulations for changing parenting time
- Provisions for transportation and exchanging your child
- Provisions regarding extra-curricular activities and other events
- Provisions regarding unexpected expenses
- Methods for communication
You should try to make your parenting plan as detailed as possible. This can help you work out problems in the future and help both parents adapt better to the custody arrangements.
Remember, the judge will make your custody arrangements for you if you cannot create your own plan.
You should make every effort to work together with the other parent to negotiate a plan. Otherwise the judge will do it for you and you will probably end up with the same generic agreement that is given to all the other families in your situation.
As parents, you know your child best and what his or her specific needs are. It makes sense that you should be the ones deciding on the custody arrangements.
The top fifteen cities in South Carolina (by population, US Census Bureau, 2008) are: Columbia, Charleston, North Charleston, Rock Hill, Mount Pleasant, Greenville, Summerville, Spartanburg, Sumter, Good Creek, Hilton Head Island, Florence, Myrtle Beach, Aiken, Anderson.