Beverly K. Ballinger:
Over the last 25 years, we have found that it is often better to control the decision-making process by negotiating or mediating child custody issues, rather than having a stranger (the judge) make such crucial decisions. We will work to minimize the conflict and help you find a child custody solution that works for the entire family.
Helping Parents Build Relationships With Their Children
In many divorces, child custody and parenting time issues are the most heated and emotional topics for the parties involved. The law firm of Beverly K. Ballinger, P.A., takes a balanced, calm approach to difficult child custody issues. We use negotiation, mediation, and litigation to help clients in Charleston, South Carolina, and throughout the Tri-County area and the rest of the Lowcountry, to create custody agreements and visitation schedules that provide parents and children with a sense of security and peace.
Legal Custody Vs. Physical Custody
In South Carolina, child custody is generally broken down into two types:
- Physical custody refers to the time actually spent with each parent.
- Legal custody generally refers to decision-making power regarding issues involving the medical care, religion, education, extra-curricular activities, and general upbringing of the child.
Types Of Visitation
It is possible to arrange a custody plan that involves any combination of physical and legal custody. For example, parents often share joint legal custody, while one parent has primary physical custody and the other has ample visitation (also known as “parenting time”). A visitation schedule can be as specific as the parties desire and can detail where the child spends weekends and holidays, and how the child will be transported from one parent to the other.
The Best Interests Of The Child
South Carolina courts determine custody based upon the “best interests of the child” standard. In most families, both parents want what is in the best interests of their child, but a definition of those best interests may differ from one parent to the other. Factors a court may consider in determining the best interests of the child between biological parents include:
- The fitness of the parents (including substance abuse or domestic violence)
- Who is the primary caretaker of the child
- Education and parenting skills of each parent
- Each parent’s conduct (immoral or illegal)
- Opinions of experts and other relevant professionals
- The child’s preference
- The age, health, and sex of the child
- Quality of educational opportunities
- Religious beliefs
- The quality of educational opportunities
- Expressed desire to relocate if awarded custody
- Attributes, resources, and attitudes of each parent (including financial and physical resources, free time to spend with the child, access to friends and relatives, availability of child care, religious training, character, judgment, and attitude toward the other parent)