Aiken Child Custody Lawyer

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Child custody is a common issue especially where divorced or separated parents cannot come to an agreement. While divorce can be messy, dealing with child custody cases is even more draining. Hiring the best child custody lawyer Aiken can however help take most of the pressure off.

Child custody lawyers are well-versed in legal intricacies concerning the same, hence better placed to negotiate with the other party for the good of your children. At Johnson, Johnson, Whittle, Lance, and Staggs (JJWLS) law firm, our team of expert lawyers will help review your case and advice on the best route to go towards getting custody of your children.

Call us today on (803) 649-5338 to book a free first appointment and case review.

Table of Contents

Introduction to Child Custody

Child custody can be defined as the legal guardianship in family law where control and care of children is disputed. In South Carolina, custody action can be filed as part of a divorce action or independently.

Several key factors ought to be considered when deciding on the case, such as the child’s psychological, physical, spiritual, educational, emotional, and recreational aspects of life. The child’s preference for custody is given precedence based on their age, judgment, maturity, and ability to express themselves.

The parent’s physical and mental health, emotional bond with the child, and ability to provide for the child’s needs are taken into consideration before determining the preferred type of custody.

What Are the Different Types of Custody?

There are basically 4 types of child custody recognized in South Carolina. These are:

Sole Legal Custody

In this type of arrangement, one parent is tasked with making all the key (important) decisions about the child’s upbringing and life. Although the other parent may have an input, the parent with the sole legal custody makes the final decision.

2. Joint Legal Custody

This type of custody allows for both parents to make decisions equally as long as it is in the best interests of the child. An agreement can be made to specify decisions where one parent can have a final say on certain areas.

3. Sole Physical Custody

This is one of the most common arrangements, where one parent has sole physical custody if the child, while the noncustodial parent will only get visitations with the child. Although no visitation might be uncommon, it can still be ordered in instances where the other parent is unfit, a danger to the child, or doesn’t wish to be in the child’s life.

4. Joint Physical Custody

Also known as co-parenting, this arrangement means parents get to spend time with the child on a 50-50 basis. One parent can live with the child for one week/month, etc., after which the other parent takes over.

What Is The Legal Framework For Child Custody Decisions?

Family court judges are required to consider the child’s best interests when determining custody. South Carolina law has also outlined several factors (relevant to the case) that courts may consider to determine child custody. Some of the factors set forth in child custody cases include:

  • i. Developmental needs and temperament of the child
  • ii. The parent’s capacity to understand and meet the child’s needs
  • iii. The child’s preference (each)
  • iv. The parent’s wishes
  • v. Past and current relationship and interaction of the parent with each child and vice versa
  • vi. The parent’s ability to be involved in the child’s life
  • vii. Child’s adjustment to their school, home, and community environment
  • viii. Everyone’s mental and physical health
  • ix. The child’s spiritual and cultural background
  • x. If the child or their sibling has been neglected or abused.

A competent child custody lawyer understands all these quite well, and knows where best to apply them. As long as your lawyer understands all these local legal nuances, you are better placed to get custody of your child. The lawyer will also be well prepared for the opposing counsel, and know when to settle as long as it is within the kids and your best interests.

What Is The Child Custody Process?

The parent may file a petition requesting custody of the child, and reasons why. Here are the 6 steps in the child custody process.

Step 1: Petition

Your lawyer will draft a portion of petition requesting child custody. The petition should outline the type of custody you are requesting. All the necessary paperwork and information should be attached as well. These include:

  • Names of the child and both parents
  • Age of the child
  • Contact information of the two parents.

The petition should be filed with the Family Court in South Carolina. Once filed, the other parent is required by law to respond within 30 days with an answer or counterclaim.

Step 2: Custody Mediation

The court may order mediation, with an objective mediator helping the parents negotiate custody, visitation, and support agreement. If both parties agree, the parents and the mediator will sign an agreement, which will then be filed officially with the family court. Mediation helps save time, money, and pain in the long run.

Step 3: Custody Evaluation

A psychologist evaluates the family’s mental health and makes a recommendation for the court especially on child custody and visitation. He/she will take several factors into consideration before making the final recommendation, including, each parent’s ability to provide, the relationship between each parent and the child, the child’s needs, etc. The main benefit of this is to ensure the child gets the absolute best custody.

Step 4: Court Hearings And Orders

During court hearings, both parents are asked to present their arguments and evidence. This is especially the case where mediation fails, forcing the case to go to trial. The judge will then use the evidence and facts presented to him/her, before making the final order.

He/she will also consider each parent’s relationship with the child, their living situation, and their ability to provide for the kids. The judge may grant sole or joint custody to the parents based on the facts gathered.

Are There Any Special Custody Considerations?

There are occasions when the judge may make special custody considerations. This can happen if both parents request a change, a relocation (if the custodial parent relocates), and if the child expresses a desire to change the custody arrangement.

Paternity is crucial, where unwed couples have children. Paternity is beneficial in that it protects both the father’s and child’s rights. It is also beneficial to mothers as they can be assured of emotional and financial support.

How Do We Navigate Child Custody And Visitation Plans?

Careful consideration and cooperation between the parents are key to navigating child custody and visitation plans. The child’s well-being ought to be given top priority when creating a plan to support their interest and well-being.

Communication too plays a crucial role in the same, especially where parent’s schedules are conflicting. It is also advisable to seek legal guidance especially when trying to develop a stable custody and visitation plan for your child.

How Do We Deal With Conflict And Enforcement?

Conflict in child custody can be emotionally draining. Looking to resolve such conflict out of court is however the way to go. Here are a few strategies that may help:

  • Mediation: let a neutral third party help you reach a mutual agreement
  • Collaborative law: Both parents can engage lawyers to help with conflict resolution
  • Family therapy: a therapist can help parents work on their communication skills and conflict resolution.

Enforcing custody orders

If one parent doesn’t comply, the other parent can seek legal avenues to help enforce the order. This may include filing a motion in court (contempt), requesting a modification to the order, or seeking help from local law enforcement. Custody orders are legally binding, a reason the parents ought to comply.

What Is The Role Of An Aiken Child Custody Lawyer?

The main role of a child custody attorney is to represent guardians and parents in court to help determine the best care arrangement for the children involved. He/she will provide legal guidance, case preparation, negotiation, and court representation. A good attorney will also help navigate complex custody issues, e.g. domestic violence, international abduction, and interstate custody.

Without proper representation, child custody cases can be emotionally, financially, and time-draining. Hiring a good child custody attorney Aiken is the best decision you can make, especially if you had a nasty divorce.

Our lawyers at Johnson, Johnson, Whittle, Lance, and Staggs (JJWLS) can help you navigate through child custody and ensure your child gets the best. Call us today on (803) 649-5338 to book an appointment and a free case review.