Over the summer, South Carolina implemented a new child custody law: H 4614, which was signed by Governor Haley on June 18, 2012. While the new law does quite a few things, one of the biggest changes involves the creation of a new requirement for the submission of parenting plans.
The goal of the law is to ensure that parents are forced to send time thinking through the practical details of their proposed custody arrangement prior to any hearings. The law states that a parenting plan should reflect parental preferences, the allocation of parenting time to be spent with each parent, and major decisions, including, but not limited to, the child’s education, medical and dental care, extracurricular activities and religious training. Some other things often found in parenting plans include the following:
- Where and when a child will be while in each parent’s physical care.
- How holidays, birthdays, vacations, school breaks, and other special occasions will be spent with each parent including the time of day that each event will begin and end.
- Transportation arrangements including how the child will be exchanged between the parents, the location of the exchange and how the transportation costs will be paid.
- Whether supervision will be needed for any parenting time and, if so, the particulars of the supervision.
- An allocation of decision-making authority between the parents, and if the parents agree that issues should be jointly decided, how to resolve a situation in which the parents disagree.
- An explanation of any limitations that will exist while one parent has physical custody of the child in terms of the other parent contacting the child and the other parent’s right to access information regarding the child.
The law took effect on August 17, 2012, at which time parenting plans must be submitted by each party at all temporary hearings where custody is contested. This obligation continues beyond the temporary hearings, as the law requires that updated parenting plans be submitted at the final hearing. The Family Court will consider these plans before issuing a temporary or final custody order, although the law states that if one party fails to submit a parenting plan, the court is not prevented from issuing an order.
Source: “S.C. House Bill Proposes Major Child Custody Law Changes,” by Rick Brundrett, published at TheNerve.com.