There are many myths about family law and custody cases. For example, many people think that a judge presiding over a contested custody case will give the mother preferential treatment.
Some fathers are so concerned about a judge’s personal bias that they don’t even ask for shared custody because they assume they won’t get it. Will the judge presiding over your divorce consider your sex when deciding how to split up parenting time and other parental responsibilities?
The sex of the parents should not impact the court’s decisions
Years ago, South Carolina applied what people called the Tender Years Doctrine to custody cases. This Doctrine demanded that judges give mothers primary or even sole custody over young children. The reason was that during those “tender years,” their bond with their mother was the most important psychological and developmental factor.
South Carolina has repealed the legal statute instructing judges to apply the Tender Years Doctrine, and the current custody laws do not talk about the sex or family role of the pair, but instead use neutral language to talk about general parental rights. This helps to make things far more even.
While there is little question that a strong attachment with a primary caregiver is crucial for a child’s social and emotional health, psychologists now understand that the role of the second parent is also important. Additionally, parents can share custody even of an infant without damaging the attachment that the child has to their primary caregiver.
Understanding the South Carolina approach to contested custody cases will help you feel empowered as you plan for your hearing.