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Know the Laws: South Carolina

UPDATED April 3, 2012

State Custody Information

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This page includes information about custody that is specific to this state. There is also a page for general information that you may find helpful.

back to topHow will a judge make a decision about custody?

The judge will make a custody decision based upon the best interests of the child, considering several factors:

  • Circumstances of the parents;
  • Nature of the case;
  • Best spiritual and other interests of the child;*
  • Religious faith of parents and child;**
  • Child's preference for custody based upon child's age, experience, maturity, judgment and ability to express preference;***
  • Any evidence of domestic violence.****
The judge will not deny custody to a victim of domestic violence based on the fact that the victim has relocated or does not currently have a home.****

* S.C. Code § 20-3-160
** S.C. Code § 63-15-20
*** S.C. Code § 63-15-30
**** S.C. Code § 63-15-40

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back to topCan a parent who committed violence get custody or visitation?

Possibly, yes.  The judge must take into consideration any evidence of domestic violence when making a custody decision, however, there are other factors that s/he will consider (To read more about the other factors, see "How will a judge make a decision about custody?" above). Therefore, the fact that a parent committed domestic violence does not necessarily mean that s/he will be denied custody.*

Visitation by the parent who committed violence may be allowed, but only if the judge believes that proper measures can be taken to ensure the safety of both you and your child. Here are some things the judge could include in a visitation order:

  • that the transfer of your child (from one parent to another) occur in a protected setting;
  • supervised visitation by another person or agency (the abuser may be ordered to cover the costs of supervised visitation);
  • that the abuser has to attend and complete an intervention program for offenders or other counseling as a condition of the visitation;
  • that the abuser cannot drink or do drugs during the visitation and for twenty-four hours before the visitation;
  • that overnight visitation is not allowed;
  • make the abuser post a bond for the return and safety of the child if s/he has made a threat to illegally keep the child;
  • require any other condition that is considered necessary to provide for the safety of the child, the victim of domestic violence, and any other household member.**
If visitation is not allowed or is limited to protect a child or parent who is a victim of domestic violence, the judge may order the address of the child and the victim to be kept confidential.**

It is recommended that you seek legal advice from a lawyer to assist you in a custody case involving domestic violence issues. For information on how to find a lawyer, see our SC Finding a Lawyer page.

* S.C. Code § 63-15-40
** S.C. Code § 63-15-50

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back to topWhere can I find more information on custody in South Carolina?

We hope the following links to outside sources may be helpful.

South Carolina Bar
provides basic information about South Carolina custody law, incuding an explanation of how courts decide who gets custody and whether custody orders ever can be changed.

South Carolina Legal Services has a series of powerpoint slides that discuss major custody issues, such as residency requirements and visitation.

The South Carolina Judicial Department has links to family law court forms.

WomensLaw.org is unrelated to the above organizations and cannot vouch for the accuracy of their sites.  We provide these links for your information only.

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