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Questions about Sole Legal Custody Rights

In many cases of divorce, parents can feel unsure of their rights or the best legal recourse available to to provide for the best interest for their child. There can be arguments while deciding who the child to live with and who should have custody of the child. In situations where there is a fear of abuse or threat to the safety of the child, sole legal custody may be the best option. However, lack of awareness of the provisions of the law could lead to questions about child custody, like the ones answered below.

What is sole legal custody?

Sole legal custody is where one parent is granted guardian rights for the child. In sole custody cases one parent makes the decisions about the child, and his/her upbringing. The child also resides with that parent for majority of the time. In cases of sole legal custody, the non-guardian parent is usually allowed visitation and parenting time.

If a parent that has sole legal custody passes away, does the other parent automatically receive custody of the child?

In the event of the parent with custody passing away, the other parent usually does not automatically receive sole legal custody of the child. Custody passes to the other parent automatically only if a custody order stating is already in place that grants other parent custody in the event of the custodial parent’s death. In the absence of such an order, the non-guardian parent should file for custody of the child with the court so that an official order can be passed. The living parent may not be granted guardianship if the court deems that the parent is unfit, and not capable of caring for the child.

What are the rights of the parent having sole legal custody of a child, when the other parent does not meet the requirements of the court order?

If the other parent does not follow court orders, the custodial parent could file for contempt of court. This could result in a reduction or stopping of visitation rights. If there are grounds for seeking child support, you may also file for support along with contempt.

If the parents are not married, how can the mother petition for sole legal custody in South Carolina?

If the parents were never married, usually sole custody is awarded to the mother of the child, unless the father goes to court. For either parent to petition for sole legal custody, they may include the following in the petition:
• The child’s name, parents’ name and child’s date of birth
• Whether the father did or did not sign the birth certificate
• That the mother has physical custody of the child since birth, if that is the case
• Whether the father has had any contact or visitation with the child; indicate how much visitation there has been, when and whether it has been consistent

When dealing with child custody issues, the legal differences between sole legal custody and physical custody is not clear to some parents. Others may not even be aware that there is a difference. In the event of a separation or divorce, courts try to ensure the best interest of a child while granting custody. If a compelling case can be made about one parent not being fit for child custody, the other parent is often granted sole legal custody. When you are not sure of your rights, it is always best to get Experts to evaluate the particulars of your case and provide you with legal insights.
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