South Carolina law requires that family court judges consider the best interest of a child or children in making a custody determination. The courts are provided 17 factors that they may consider in making such a determination. A family court judge is not precluded from considering other factors if he/she believes they are relevant in considering the child’s best interest.

Factors Used to Determine Child Custody in South Carolina

Factors set forth by South Carolina law to consider in a child custody case are:

  1. the temperament and developmental needs of the child;
  2. the capacity and the disposition of the parents to understand and meet the needs of the child;
  3. the preferences of each child;
  4. the wishes of the parents as to custody;
  5. the past and current interaction and relationship of the child with each parent, the child's siblings, and any other person, including a grandparent, who may significantly affect the best interest of the child;
  6. the actions of each parent to encourage the continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent, as is appropriate, including compliance with court orders;
  7. the manipulation by or coercive behavior of the parents in an effort to involve the child in the parents' dispute;
  8. any effort by one parent to disparage the other parent in front of the child;
  9. the ability of each parent to be actively involved in the life of the child;
  10. the child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community environments;
  11. the stability of the child's existing and proposed residences;
  12. the 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;
  13. the child's cultural and spiritual background;
  14. whether the child or a sibling of the child has been abused or neglected;
  15. 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;
  16. 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
  17. other factors as the court considers necessary.

One of the most important issues a family court attorney deals with is the issue of custody. The development of children into healthy and prosperous adults is all any parent can ask for.

How We Can Help

If you are facing a custody dispute, it is important to have an attorney who will advocate for you. Your attorney should be able to explain the factors as set forth above and how they are often considered by the courts. You need an attorney who knows how to present evidence to the family court as to these factors to present the best case possible for you under the circumstances in your custody case.

If you have questions about custody, please do not hesitate to call toll-free 888-230-1841 to set up a consultation to discuss your legal rights with an attorney.


John Holland
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John Holland is a Spartanburg Family law attorney, practicing since 2012.