What Is a Custodial Parent? 

What Is a Custodial Parent? 

The custodial parent is the parent the child lives with most of the time. Even when parents have joint custody, a child typically lives with one parent who is the custodial parent. The other parent or non-custodial parent has scheduled visitation.

Generally, having a primary residence provides stability and continuity for a child. Moving a child back and forth between homes every few days could be very disruptive. However, the courts recognize that children benefit from close relationships with both parents unless a parent is unfit.

Therefore, even though a child primarily lives with the custodial parent, the court encourages parents to develop a parenting plan that allows the child to have liberal visitation and communication with the non-custodial parent.

Legal custody refers to a parent’s right to make decisions for a child. 

Decisions may include:

  • Education
  • Medical care
  • Religious upbringing
  • Extracurricular activities

When a parent has sole legal custody, they do not have to ask the other parent for input when they make decisions. If the parents have joint legal custody, either parent can make legal decisions for the child. Since parents should act in the best interests of the child, the court encourages parents to work together to make decisions that are best for the child.

The custodial parent will make many decisions for the child because the child lives with them most of the time. However, joint legal custody also gives your ex the right to make those decisions.

How Do South Carolina Courts Decide Who Should Be the Custodial Parent in a Rock Hill Custody Case?

Judges base child custody decisions on the best interests of the child. Therefore, if parents cannot agree on who should be the custodial parent, the judge will review the evidence in the case to determine what is in the child’s best interest.

Factors judges consider include:

  • The parent’s wishes for custody terms
  • Efforts and actions to disparage a parent in front of the child
  • A child’s temperament and developmental needs
  • The stability of the child’s existing home vs. the proposed home
  • A child’s reasonable preferences for custody
  • The mental and physical health of both parents
  • The current and past relationships and interactions between the child and parents
  • The child’s cultural and spiritual upbringing and background
  • The child’s past and current relationships with extended family and friends
  • The child’s adjustment to their home, school, and community
  • Allegations of neglect, domestic violence, abuse, and long-term separation
  • A parent’s ability and actions to encourage a continuing relationship between the child and the other parent
  • A parent’s manipulative behavior to involve the child in a dispute between the parents

Judges can consider other factors they deem relevant to deciding child custody in South Carolina. Parents can request that a Guardian ad Litem be appointed in custody cases. Judges may also appoint GALs on their own motion.

The GAL represents the interests of minor children during a child custody proceeding. A GAL conducts an investigation and files a report with the court. The report may contain recommendations in addition to the GAL’s findings. The judge determines what weight to give the GAL’s report during the final custody hearing.

How Can I Improve My Chance of Becoming a Custodial Parent for My Child in Rock Hill, SC?

You and your ex may negotiate a custody arrangement that names you as the custodial parent. The court will consider whether the arrangement is in the child’s best interest. If so, the judge can incorporate your custody agreement into the final order.

However, if your spouse seeks sole custody or desires to be the custodial parent, you need to prepare to fight for custody in court. The first step in fighting for custody is to hire an experienced Rock Hill child custody lawyer.

An attorney may resolve the dispute to your satisfaction through mediation and negotiation. If not, your attorney prepares to take the matter to trial. They investigate your case to gather evidence proving that placing your child with you as the custodial parent is in your child’s best interest.

If you have questions about becoming your child’s custodial parent, you can schedule a confidential consultation with a Rock Hill child custody attorney.

To learn more and get the help you deserve, call our divorce & family law firm Minor Law Divorce Lawyers in Rock Hill, SC at (803) 504-0971 or contact us online today.
You can also visit our law firm at 1273 Ebenezer Rd, Suite B, Rock Hill, SC 29732.

We serve throughout York County.