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Co-Parenting in South Carolina: Joint Custody Tips for Divorced Parents

Understanding Custody

In South Carolina, the court will first determine who should be granted custody of the child. A court can award physical custody, known as residential custody, or legal custody. According to S.C. Code Ann. § 63-5-30, “physical custody is usually defined as the physical possession and control of a minor child and the right to determine the child’s residence,” while “legal custody is usually defined as the right to make decisions concerning a minor child’s health, education, and general welfare.” The court will decide on the best custody arrangement for the child’s wellbeing, such as granting joint physical custody, joint legal custody, or sole custody.


Child Support Obligations

According to S.C. Code Ann. § 63-17-20, a court may order either or both of the parents of a child to pay child support. The court’s decision will be based on a variety of factors, such as the child’s normal standard of living and the parent’s income. The court can also order a custodial parent to pay additional child support or maintenance to the non-custodial parent if the court finds that the custodial parent is able to pay it.


Shared Expenses

Parents who are not granted sole custody are usually expected to share certain co-parenting expenses for the benefit of the child. According to S.C. Code Ann. § 63-3-530, co-parenting expenses are any expenses related to the upbringing of the child, such as school tuition, medical bills, daycare, extracurricular activities, and other miscellaneous expenses. The court might order one or both parents to pay for all or a portion of these shared expenses.


Parental Rights and Decisions

In general, both parents are allowed to make parental decisions, such as medical and educational decisions, and exercise their parental rights, such as the right to discipline, to the same extent any other parent would if they were not divorced or unmarried. This is stated in S.C. Code Ann. § 63-3-540. The child’s best interests should always come first and should be the basis for any and all decisions made regarding the child’s upbringing.


Parenting Plan

In South Carolina, all divorcing or unmarried parents must create a parenting plan. This plan would address legal custody and visitation rights of the co-parents, described in S.C. Code Ann. § 63-3-530. The court may reject a parenting plan if it deems the plan to be unreasonable or contrary to the child’s best interests. If both parents agree on a parenting plan, the court will likely accept it.


Visitation Rights

In South Carolina, both parents are generally entitled to reasonable visitation rights with their child. These rights are based on the law of the state and may be outlined in the divorce agreement, parenting plan, and other legal documents. According to S.C. Code Ann. § 63-3-520, visitation rights may include, but are not limited to, the amount of time each parent is entitled to spend with the child, the times and places where visitation will occur, and who will be responsible for transportation of the child during visitation.


Mediation for Co-Parents

If parents are unable to come to an agreement on a parenting plan, they may choose to pursue mediation. According to S.C. Code Ann. § 63-3-620, mediation is a confidential process and is conducted by a trained mediator. Mediation gives co-parents the opportunity to come to a consensus without the involvement of the court. The final agreement reached through mediation will still need to be approved by the court.


Co-parenting can be a difficult yet rewarding experience. Before a parent enters into an arrangement, they should make sure that they understand their rights and responsibilities concerning custody, child support, co-parenting expenses, decision-making rights, parental rights, visitation rights, and mediation. By understanding their rights and responsibilities, a parent can ensure that the best interests of their child are always put first.


Fact Check and Sources

In writing this post, we conducted thorough fact-checking and research, consulting the following sources:


Co-parenting in USA


Co-parenting in Canada


Warning:  This post is neither financial, health, legal, or personal advice nor a substitute for the advice offered by a professional. These are serious matters, and the help of a professional is recommended as it can impact your future.

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