In South Carolina, the best interest of the child is the controlling factor in child custody determinations. Our family courts are routinely working with families in an effort to create child custody and visitation schedules that benefit both the parents and the child. Child custody should not be granted to reward or punish parents, but the fitness/unfitness of a parent or a parent’s ability to care for a child certainly play a role.
Typically, adultery does not have an impact on child custody determinations in South Carolina (other than in circumstances where the adultery directly effects the children).
Other fault-based grounds for divorce (i.e. Physical Cruelty, Habitual Drunkenness or Drug Abuse, and Desertion), however, can definitely impact a child custody determination. These fault-based factors often speak to characteristics of a parent that could be detrimental to a child’s welbeing. Sometimes, a parent exhibiting behaviors that would put a child at risk may be given an opportunity for rehabilitation in order to have a chance to regain custody or visitation rights. Courts can also place restraining orders on parental conduct to limit parent behavior and protect the best interest of the child. A parent who has previously been denied custody rights or has had their custody or visitation rights limited, may petition the court for a modification of child custody if there has been a substantial change in circumstances.