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    February 8, 2016

    Unmarried Fathers’ Rights: Visitation

    greenville sc upstate paternity family law lawyer

    The birth of a child is the beginning of a unique relationships, full of joys and challenges. Raising a child is a serious responsibility, while the joys of watching your son or daughter grown through the years is one of life’s most meaningful experiences. Unfortunately, unmarried fathers and those not living with their partner are often shut out of this experience, often to the detriment of their child. At Lauren Taylor Law, our child custody attorney understands how important it is for fathers to have a strong relationship with their children. We also understand the challenges that unmarried fathers often face. In our previous blog on unmarried fathers’ rights, we covered how to establish paternity. In this installment, we will look at how an unmarried father can get quality time to spend with their child through the establishment of visitation rights.  

    Rights to Visitation

    In the State of South Carolina, there are no automatic rights when it comes to visitation for unmarried fathers. In some cases, the parents of the child will be able to work these issues out on their own. In others, such as when the mother does not voluntarily agree to visitation or is unfair or unpredictable in the days and times visitation occurs, the father of the child will benefit by having a standing order for visitation. Once paternity has been established, an unmarried father may petition the court for rights to regular visitation by filing a Complaint for Visitation in which the father is listed as the plaintiff, and the mother as the defendant. This complaint is filed with the court and served on the mother, and a hearing will be scheduled in order to discuss the particulars of the case.

    Parenting Plans

    Prior to issuing an order awarding visitation, the judge in the matter will have both parties fill out and submit to the court a parenting plan. Under Section 63-15-220 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, the parenting plan will reflect the personal preferences of both parties when it comes to allocating time to be spent with each parent. In addition, the parenting plan will also allocate responsibility for making major decisions affecting the child’s life, such as education, extracurricular activities, and religious training.

    In making awards relating to custody and visitation, the court always looks to what it considers the best interests of the child. Factors that may influence this decision include the following:

    • The ability of each parent to be involved with the child;
    • Any efforts to manipulate or coerce the child into favoring one parent over the other;
    • Allegations or proof of domestic violence, child abuse, or neglect;
    • The child’s cultural and religious background; and
    • The mental, physical, and emotional health of both parents involved.

    In addition to the above, it is important to be sure and pay any agreed upon or court ordered child support in a timely manner. Your willingness to financially provide for your child will reflect favorably upon you when it comes to requesting visitation.

    Contact Our Experienced South Carolina Family Law Attorney

    If you are an unmarried father who wants legal visitation with your child, contact our experienced South Carolina family law attorney.  At the Lauren Taylor Law, we have the knowledge and training in family court matters to provide aggressive legal representation while ensuring your rights are protected. Serving Greenville and the entire Upstate area, call or contact us online today for an initial consultation.