The South Carolina family courts do their best to create unique custody solutions that work for divorcing parents and prioritize the needs of the children. For most families, shared custody or co-parenting will be the best solution to divorce with minor children. Co-parenting arrangements allow both parents to continue to play an active role in the lives of the children.

Still, it is possible that one parent will have substantially more parenting time or that they will have primary custody. There are many different considerations that a judge will have to think about when deciding the best way to allocate custody in your situation. The goal is to protect both parental relationships while remaining focused on the best interests of the children.

One of the factors that the judge may consider is what opinion your child has regarding the custody arrangements.

What does South Carolina law say about a child’s preference?

It is common for children to have a preference regarding where they live when their parents divorce. According to existing statutes in South Carolina, the judge hearing your case should familiarize themselves with the preferences of your children and take them into consideration when developing a parenting plan. However, the child does not have the ultimate say, and both their age and maturity will determine how much weight their preference has in the judge’s ultimate decision.

Is there a specific age when preferences matter more?

The law on custody does not specifically reference the age at which a child’s preference would become significant or carry more weight. However, the courts will likely start giving weight to a child’s wishes when they are 12 years old, although 14 is often considered the standard age at which a child should have a say in custody proceedings.

While the child may have a specific preference, the courts also have specific rules, and it is the best interests of the child, not just their short-term preferences, that should guide how the judge rules in a custody matter. In other words, it’s possible that a child will not get the outcome that they asked for if they voice their preference during custody proceedings.