AM I ENTITLED TO MY CHILD’S MEDICAL RECORDS?

Often parents who do not have custody of their child wonder if they can get copies of their children’s medical or school records, even if the other parent does not consent.  It is not uncommon for a doctor or school to refuse to give school or medical records to the non-custodial parent.  However, the law in South Carolina is clear.  Unless otherwise ordered or in violation of State law, each parent has equal access and the same right to obtain all educational records and medical records of his or her minor children and the right to participate in the children’s school activities and extracurricular activities that are held in public locations. SECTION 63-15-260, S.C. Code of Laws

Rhett Burney
Attorney at Law
rdburney@turnerandburney.com
(864) 228-1616
www.turnerandburney.com
www.rhettburney.com

AM I ENTITLED TO MY CHILD’S SCHOOL RECORDS?

Often parents who do not have custody of their child wonder if they can get copies of their children’s school or medical records, even if the other parent does not consent.  It is not uncommon for a school or doctor to refuse to give school or medical records to the non-custodial parent.  However, the law in South Carolina is clear.  Unless otherwise ordered or in violation of State law, each parent has equal access and the same right to obtain all educational records and medical records of his or her minor children and the right to participate in the children’s school activities and extracurricular activities that are held in public locations. SECTION 63-15-260, S.C. Code of Laws

Rhett Burney
Attorney at Law
rdburney@turnerandburney.com
(864) 228-1616
www.turnerandburney.com
www.rhettburney.com

How To Be A Positive Influence on Your Children?

How To Be A Positive Influence on Your Children?

No Parent is Perfect

As a divorce attorney and father, I know first-hand how hard it is being a parent. So, how do we as parents positively influence their behavior?  The few points I’ve listed below are not me preaching to you; in fact, you probably have thought about all of these.  However, what I’ve listed below are what children I represent have repeatedly said would have positively influenced their actions.

  1. Know the parents

There are parents who would rather have their child get high at their house than at a stranger’s house.  Children will flock to one of two types of homes:  one is where their vices are being  met, or one where they needs are being met.  You need to know what their friend’s parents will allow at their home.

  1. Check up on them

When you child is leaving home, ask them “Where, when, how, who, and why.” If their story sounds fishy, investigate.  Remember that God probably let you survive the stupid things you did as a child, so you could outsmart your child.   I know parents who will call the home where their child is supposed to be and ask to speak to the parents.  Does their child hate this? Yes.  Do they accuse their parents of not trusting them? Yes.  Did that child later say that their parent checking on them resulted in better choices?  Yes.  The reason given was that they believed their parents cared enough about them to know what they were doing.

  1. Tell them how their actions make you feel

For example, it is one thing to tell a child they shouldn’t use drugs because it’s bad for them.  It’s another thing to tell them why you don’t want them to use drugs.  Let’s face it, despite what our cardiologist says, we still eat Krispy Kreme Donuts.  Telling your child not to do something because it is bad might work, but what they want to hear is simpler than that.  Tell them that you love them and that you will be disappointed in them if they make that choice.  They may not care about their bodies, but they may care about you.

  1. Let them fail

I see this in some of the addicts that come in my office.  Their parents just couldn’t let their child fail, and as a result their child continued the same behavior.  I understand that this point is somewhat contradictory to the previous points, but if we as parents consistently bail out bad behavior, are we not really rewarding it?  Tough love is hard, but necessary.

What I have outlined above is not necessarily a “How to Parent” guide.  It is a list of what I hear teenagers say either contributed to or prevented certain actions. We are not perfect and parenting is tough, so go get a Krispy Kreme Donut. You can tell your doctor that I gave you permission as your reward for being a great parent.

Rhett Burney
Attorney at Law
rdburney@turnerandburney.com
(864) 228-1616
www.turnerandburney.com
www.rhettburney.com

WHAT DOES A JUDGE CONSIDER WHEN MAKING A DECISION ABOUT CUSTODY?

In South Carolina, the judge must first determine what is in the child’s best interest when deciding which party will have custody. In determining what is in the child’s best interest, the court can look at

1)  the temperament and developmental needs of the child;

(2) the capacity and the disposition of the parents to understand and meet the needs of the child;

(3) the preferences of each child;

(4) the wishes of the parents as to custody;

(5) the past and current interaction and relationship of the child with each parent, the child’s siblings, and any other person, including a grandparent, who may significantly affect the best interest of the child;

(6) the actions of each parent to encourage the continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent, as is appropriate, including compliance with court orders;

(7) the manipulation by or coercive behavior of the parents in an effort to involve the child in the parents’ dispute;

(8) any effort by one parent to disparage the other parent in front of the child;

(9) the ability of each parent to be actively involved in the life of the child;

(10) the child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community environments;

(11) the stability of the child’s existing and proposed residences;

(12) the mental and physical health of all individuals involved, except that a disability of a proposed custodial parent or other party, in and of itself, must not be determinative of custody unless the proposed custodial arrangement is not in the best interest of the child;

(13) the child’s cultural and spiritual background;

(14) whether the child or a sibling of the child has been abused or neglected;

(15) whether one parent has perpetrated domestic violence or child abuse or the effect on the child of the actions of an abuser if any domestic violence has occurred between the parents or between a parent and another individual or between the parent and the child;

(16) whether one parent has relocated more than one hundred miles from the child’s primary residence in the past year, unless the parent relocated for safety reasons; and

(17) other factors as the court considers necessary.

-S.C. Code of Laws, Sec. 63-15-240

Of course every case has different facts which will affect how a judge will decide a case.  The best course to take is to schedule an appointment with an attorney to discuss all of your facts, so you will have a better understanding of what to expect in court.

Rhett Burney
Attorney at Law
rdburney@turnerandburney.com
(864) 228-1616
www.turnerandburney.com
www.rhettburney.com

CAN A JUDGE ORDER JOINT CUSTODY IF THE PARTIES DO NOT AGREE?

There has been a long misunderstanding that a family court judge cans only order joint custody if the parties agree to it.  However, a family court judge in South Carolina can order joint custody whether or not the parties agree for there to be joint custody, provided the judge finds that the joint custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child(ren).  If a court orders joint custody the order must include how consultations and communications between the parents will take place, generally and specifically, with regard to major decisions concerning the child’s health, medical and dental care, education, extracurricular activities, and religious training. S.C. Code of Laws, Sec. 63-15-240. Of course every case has different facts which will affect how a judge will decide a case.  The best course to take is to schedule an appointment with an attorney to discuss all of your facts, so you will have a better understanding of what to expect in court.

Rhett Burney
Attorney at Law
rdburney@turnerandburney.com
(864) 228-1616
www.turnerandburney.com
www.rhettburney.com

WHAT IS A PARENTING PLAN IN SOUTH CAROLINA FAMILY COURT?

The requirement of the presentation of a parenting plan in South Carolina Family Court is relatively new. Although parenting plans are required to be submitted at all temporary hearings, the law doesn’t specifically require that a parenting plan be submitted at the final hearing.  Nevertheless, the law does require that the court consider each party’s parenting plan before issuing a temporary or final custody order. However, if a party fails to provide a parenting plan, the court can still issue a temporary or final order of custody.   The parenting plan is supposed to 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. However, the parties may elect to prepare, file, and submit a joint parenting plan. SECTION 63-15-220, SC Code of Laws.

Rhett Burney
Attorney at Law
rdburney@turnerandburney.com
(864) 228-1616
www.turnerandburney.com
www.rhettburney.com

WHAT IS SOLE CUSTODY IN SOUTH CAROLINA?

In South Carolina, the term “Sole custody” means a person, including, but not limited to, a parent who has temporary or permanent custody of a child and, unless otherwise provided for by court order, the rights and responsibilities for major decisions concerning the child, including the child’s education, medical and dental care, extracurricular activities, and religious training. Section 63-15-210, SC Code of Laws.

Rhett Burney
Attorney at Law
rdburney@turnerandburney.com
(864) 228-1616
www.turnerandburney.com
www.rhettburney.com

WHAT IS JOINT CUSTODY IN SOUTH CAROLINA?

In South Carolina, the term “Joint custody” means both parents have equal rights and responsibilities for major decisions concerning the child, including the child’s education, medical and dental care, extracurricular activities, and religious training; however, a judge may designate one parent to have sole authority to make specific, identified decisions while both parents retain equal rights and responsibilities for all other decisions. Section 63-15-210, SC Code of Laws.  Therefore, it is very important that your court order designate which parent will be responsible for the major decisions of the child in order to avoid any problems later.

Rhett Burney
Attorney at Law
rdburney@turnerandburney.com
(864) 228-1616
www.turnerandburney.com

www.rhettburney.com

WHAT IS A “DE FACTO CUSTODIAN”?

A “de facto custodian” usually means a person who has been shown by clear and convincing evidence to have been the primary caregiver for and financial supporter of a child who has (1) has resided with the person for a period of six months or more if the child is under three years of age; or (2) has resided with the person for a period of one year or more if the child is three years of age or older. SECTION 63-15-60 of the S.C. Code of Laws.  However, in order to be considered a de facto custodian of a child, the family court judge must determine by clear and convincing evidence that the person meets the definition of de facto custodian with respect to that child. If the court determines a person is a de facto custodian of a child, that person has standing to seek visitation or custody of that child.

Rhett Burney
Attorney at Law
rdburney@turnerandburney.com
(864) 228-1616
www.turnerandburney.com
www.rhettburney.com

CAN SOMEONE OTHER THAN A PARENT GET CUSTODY OR VISITATION OF A CHILD WHO IS NOT THEIR’S?

Yes.  Under certain circumstances someone other than a natural parent of child may be awarded custody or visitation.  However, the burden of proof is very difficult.  The court often requires that the parents of the child be shown to be unfit before awarding custody to someone other than a parent.  In fact, SECTION 63-15-60 of the South Carolina Code of Laws says “The family court may grant visitation or custody of a child to the de facto custodian if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that the child’s natural parents are unfit or that other compelling circumstances exist.” Of course every case has different facts which will affect how a judge will decide a case.  The best course to take is to schedule an appointment with an attorney to discuss all of your facts, so you will have a better understanding of what to expect in court.

Rhett Burney
Attorney at Law
rdburney@turnerandburney.com
(864) 228-1616
www.turnerandburney.com
www.rhettburney.com