In South Carolina visitation, custody is determined either by agreement of the parties or by a family court judge based on what is in the best interest of the child. The best interest of the child has several factors; spiritual, financial, educational, future earning potential. There are so many factors that go into determining what is in the best interest of the child. And a family court will do that, make that determination about the parent with whom the child should live, whether the parents were married or whether they were not married.
A kind of speed bump prior to the custodial determination for couples who are not married is that you might have to have a paternity test done to determine that is definitely the father and the mother of this particular child; whereas in a marriage, there is normally a presumption that the child is of the marriage if it was born during the marriage. That presumption can be overturned, but the court presumes that the child belongs to the two married parents.
But no, the same child support guidelines apply and the same factors for determining custody apply, whether you’ve been married to the other parent or whether you have not. If the parties cannot resolve between themselves custody, the court will appoint a guardian, a guardian ad litem, whose job it is to do an investigation into both parents’ lives and home lives and relationships and relationships with the child and prepare documents for the court to consider in trying todetermine custody.
Catherine Hendrix is a partner at the Law Offices of Lester & Hendrix where they are committed to solving divorce and separation issues. Families throughout South Carolina can rely on their team of Attorneys for advice and counsel.