At Morton & Gettys, our family law attorneys understand that even more so than finances, child custody issues are often the most painful and difficult topics in a divorce. We work closely with clients to help them reach solutions. We understand that emotional issues involving children often are more challenging than the legalities, which is why our divorce lawyers work hard to treat each case as unique and to treat our clients with compassion.

There are two components of child custody in South Carolina: legal and physical.

Legal custody decides who has decision-making power for the child in issues ranging from schooling to extracurricular activities to medical care.

Physical custody determines where the child lives. There are three variations: sole custody, split custody, and joint custody, with joint custody being the most common.

Child’s best interests is child custody standard

Whether the issue is physical or legal, South Carolina family courts seem to have become more reluctant to grant sole custody. The goal typically is for both parents to be involved in the child’s life. Only if a court finds that sole custody is in the child’s best interest (the standard for all child custody decisions) will custody be granted to only one parent.

It is rare for a family court judge to completely deny visitation as long as there are assurances the child will be safe. Courts generally allow families latitude, however, in developing visitation schedules that work for the child. It could be visitation every other weekend, an alternating week schedule or anything in between.

Though it may seem the issues of child support and child custody are intertwined, legally they are two distinct and separate issues. One parent cannot deny the other visitation because child support payments are in arrears, nor can a parent refuse to pay child support because he or she is not exercising visitation. Doing so puts the parent at risk of being found in contempt of court.

Morton & Gettys divorce lawyers have the skills and experience to help clients in Rock Hill, York County and beyond create solutions that are right for their children. There are many possible scenarios and situations in every family court case. We strive to find the one that works best for each individual family.

Elizabeth Smith Owen


P 803.366.3388  F 803.366.4044

Michael B. Smith


P 803.366.3426  F 803.366.4044