Experienced Legal Representation in Child Custody Disputes
Child custody and visitation rights are two of the most contested issues in any divorce settlement. At the Law Offices of Shea & Barron, we understand that no two cases are the same. We assist clients throughout South Carolina with a variety of family law issues. Our attorneys have children of their own and understand the importance of maintaining a parent-child relationship.
Experienced Lexington Visitation Lawyers
We provide the individualized assessment and attention our clients need in child custody disputes. We take all allegations of abuse seriously and examine any evidence of irresponsible parental behavior, including examination of online accounts such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. We offer compassionate, yet frank, advice so that clients can set realistic expectations regarding the possible outcomes of their cases.
Our goal is to help families achieve resolutions that balance their immediate and future interests. Wherever possible, we seek to help clients obtain amicable resolutions through mediation or arbitration. However, if no amicable settlement can be reached, our attorneys use their trial experience to pursue our clients’ interests in court. We always strive to obtain the solution that works in the best interests of the children involved.
We also can advocate for grandparents’ rights and fathers’ rights to visitation and custody. This advocacy includes paternity services and settling joint or sole physical custody.
We also have handled custody, divorce and adoption issues involving gay and lesbian parents and spouses.
Modifying an Existing Custody Agreement
Our firm also provides services for those who wish to modify or enforce an existing custody agreement. There are many reasons to seek a modification such as relocation for a job or the remarriage of either spouse. We assess each situation on a case-by-case basis, and do what is necessary to protect our clients’ rights and the best interests of the children involved.
Frequently Asked Questions About Child Custody and Visitation
Below are questions frequently asked by people in need of a child custody attorney. The section below is not intended as legal advice; consultation with an attorney on the client’s unique set of facts is necessary because the law is constantly evolving and changing. Each case in family court is different, and advice from friends or family, though well-meaning, might not be applicable to your situation and sometimes might even be harmful to your case.
How will custody and visitation be determined?
The court must consider a number of factors, including who has been the primary caregiver and what is in the best interests of a child. No two situations are alike, and the law doesn’t favor mothers or fathers. Where the parties will live after a divorce also can impact the frequency of visitation.
I’m already divorced, but my ex-spouse is not abiding by the terms of our order. Is there anything I can do?
Yes. You can ask the Court to hold your spouse in contempt by filing a Rule to Show Cause.
I’m a grandparent. Can I get an order allowing me to see my grandchildren?
In South Carolina, grandparents’ rights are derivative of their child’s rights. This means that in typical circumstances, a grandparent may visit with a grandchild only when the grandparent’s child has visitation. A court considering grandparent visitation over a parent’s objection must allow a presumption that a fit parent’s decision is in the child’s best interest. So long as a parent adequately cares for his or her children (i.e., is fit), there will normally be no reason for the State to inject itself into the private realm of the family to further question the ability of that parent to make the best decisions concerning the rearing of that parents children. Camburn v. Smith, 355 S.C. 574, 586 S.E.2d 565 (2003). When one parent dies, the parents of the deceased may still be able to have visitation rights if the meet the criteria in S.C. Code Ann. § 63-3-530(33) and can show compelling circumstances. In South Carolina also recognizes the doctrine of a psychological parent. There is a 4-part test which is used to evaluate whether or not a person (to include a grandparent) qualifies as a psychological parent: That the child’s biological or legal parent or parents consented to and facilitated the formation and establishment of a parent-like relationship with the child; That the petitioner and the child lived together in the same household; That the petitioner undertook obligations of parenthood through responsibility for the child’s care, education, and development without expectation of financial compensation; That the petitioner has been in a parental role for a length of time sufficient for a parental bond to be established with the child. Middleton v. Johnson, 369 S.C 585, 633 S.E.2d 162 (Ct.App. 2006). According to S.C. Code Ann. § 63-15-60, a grandparent may also qualify as a de facto custodian in some circumstances. A de facto custodian means, unless the context requires otherwise, a person who has been shown by clear and convincing evidence to have been the primary caregiver for and financial supporter of a child who: Has resided with the person for a period of six months or more if the child is under three years of age; or Has resided with the person for a period of one year or more if the child is three years of age or older. In gathering information to assist in making a decision, a judge may use investigative agencies, psychologists and others. The Judge may also appoint a lawyer to represent the interest of a child or children.
I’m already divorced, but a change in circumstances has occurred with respect to my children and/or my finances. Can I get my divorce decree modified?
The Family Court always has jurisdiction to modify orders regarding custody, visitation, and child support. If the changes have been substantial and material, modification may be possible. Examples of substantial changes include moving out of commuting distance, physical or drug abuse of the other parent, loss of a job or an increase in income; and many other factors. Remarriage alone is not necessary a substantial change but may also be a factor.
Contact Us Today
We invite potential clients to meet with our Columbia child custody lawyers today and discuss their individual situations and particular needs. Call our office during normal business hours at (803) 779-3099. You may also contact us online. We offer evening and weekend appointments by request only. We accept all major credit cards. Our services are typically billed at an hourly rate.
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