South Carolina Custody and Visitation Schedules
You can create your own custody and visitation schedule (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 schedule, you can use the Custody X Change software.
Custody X Change is software that creates custody schedules, calendars, and professional parenting plan documents.
When creating a child visitation schedule in the State of South Carolina, it is important to be familiar with the laws of the state so you will have an idea of what the court expects from you and your schedule.
The laws pertaining to child custody and visitation can be found in the South Carolina Code of Laws, Title 63, South Carolina Children's Code, Chapter 15, Custody and Visitation. Many of the terms and procedures used by the court are defined in the Code.
South Carolina Case Law and specific court rules may also be utilized when creating a child visitation schedule.
Once you possess the knowledge and proper tools, you are more likely to have a successful outcome in your child custody case if your child visitation schedule is part of a parenting plan that serves the best interests of the child and complies with the law.
Before you begin developing your South Carolina child visitation schedule, you should know the differences between the various types of custody.
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act is included in the Children's Code and contains federal legislation that ensures custodial matters are enforceable from state to state.
The various types of custody are found within the UCCJEA.
- Physical custody involves the actual physical care and residence of the child.
- Sole custody means that one parent is designated as the child's primary caregiver, while the non-custodial parent may be entitled to visitation time with the child.
- Joint physical custody means that both parents share physical custody of the child, though the time with the child does not have to be equally divided. A primary residence may still be designated when parents share joint physical custody, for legal purposes. Designating one parent's home as the primary residence does not imply that the parent has more custodial rights than the other, in joint custody.
- Legal custody involves the authority to make important decisions in the child's life, such as educational, medical, and religious decisions. Legal custody determines who will make major decisions affecting the child's health and welfare. Decisions about the child's day to day care are generally reserved for the parent that is caring for the child at the time.
- Sole legal custody means that one parent is solely responsible for making all of the major decisions and has legal responsibility of the child.
- Joint legal custody is far more common that sole legal custody. It means the parents share decision making authority and the responsibilities of raising their child.
Once the type of custody the parents shall have is established, the child visitation schedule can be created to coordinate with the custody.
The State of South Carolina has a "standard" child visitation schedule that is ordered for non-custodial parents when parents are unable or unwilling to create one on their own.
Variations of the standard visitation schedule may be ordered, but it is more or less comprised of the following components:
- The non-custodial parent shall have the child every other weekend from Friday at 6:00 p.m. until Sunday at 6:00 p.m.
- The non-custodial parent shall have the child every other Wednesday, from after school, (or the afternoon), until 8 p.m.
- The non-custodial parent shall have the child for four weeks during summer vacation.
- Parents shall alternate the holidays during the year, and rotate them during even and odd years.
In the past, mothers were automatically awarded custody of their young children, however, "The Tender Years Doctrine" (S.C. Code § 63-15-10) has since been repealed and more and more fathers are being awarded sole or joint custody of their children.
The State of South Carolina realizes that children benefit from frequent, ongoing contact with both parents. Every child deserves to have both parents as active participants in their lives.
Joint custody is encouraged (though not mandated) by the State of South Carolina. Joint custody allows each parent to have the child at least thirty percent of the time.
Ultimately, it is the judge who will decide custodial matters concerning the child but if you are able to reach an agreement on your own the judge will accept it if it serves the best interests of your child.
If you are having a hard time reaching an agreement and find it difficult to work with the other parent you may want some help. You may attend mediation or seek the help of a professional counselor. Those are just some of the resources available to help you create an agreement.
If you are able to cooperate with each other and reach an agreement, you will be able to create a child visitation schedule that meets the precise needs of your child, as opposed to being mandated to comply with one created for children in general.
When creating your child visitation schedule, it is in the child's best interests to put your own needs and wishes aside and develop a schedule that is in the best interest of the child.
By examining your schedules and determining what is feasible and in the best interest of the child, you can create a comprehensive schedule that benefits everyone involved.
Here is a basic template to follow to make a good custody and visitation schedule:
- A residency schedule which shows where the child lives during school weeks and weekends.
- A summer schedule if the residency will change over long summer breaks. You can also come up with a schedule for winter and spring breaks if necessary.
- A holiday schedule to allow your child time with both parents for holidays and special occasions. Make a list of school, national, and religious holidays that you want in your schedule. You need to decide when the holiday starts and ends, and then you need to assign the holiday parenting time.
- A vacation schedule or provisions for vacation time.
Along with each of these components for your schedule, you need to think about the practical matters of making the schedule work.
- How will you and the other parent exchange the child?
- Who will pay for transportation to and from visitation?
- How will you handle extra expenses that come up with the child?
These are only a few issues to consider that you may want to address with your schedule. You can add provisions and stipulations about how you will take care of certain matters that pertain to the schedule and this can help you and the other parent implement the schedule.
Even if you want to have some flexibility with some of these matters, it is helpful to at least think about them and discuss them with the other parent so that you can avoid future conflict.
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.