Child Custody Lawyers in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Daniel A. Selwa, Attorney at Law, is a child custody lawyer located in Surfside Beach, SC, who accepts child custody cases in Horry County, Georgetown County, and the surrounding areas.

We understand that child custody can be one of the most emotionally charged and difficult subjects in any separation or divorce and can be one of the most important issues in your divorce case.

Depending on your goals and your situation, we are here to help you:

  • Preserve your family unit and help you keep custody of your children as part of your divorce proceedings,
  • Ensure a reasonable visitation schedule when your former spouse will take primary custody of the children,
  • Enforce your custody rights or visitation rights if your former spouse is interfering, or
  • Ask the court to modify an existing child custody order based on a change in circumstances or danger to the child.

Horry County Child Custody Attorneys Who Care

People in Horry County, Myrtle Beach, and Conway, South Carolina, turn to our child custody law firm when they need someone they trust to fight for their custody rights, whether it is during their divorce proceedings or to enforce their custody or visitation rights after the divorce is final.

What makes us different?

We will answer your questions, return your phone calls and messages, and be there with you every step of the way.

More importantly, we care.

As a father of two beautiful and amazing daughters, child custody lawyer Daniel Selwa understands the love that a parent has for their children and the need that a parent has to protect and raise their children properly.

When you call our office for help with your divorce or child custody action, we will:

  • Meet with you to learn about your situation,
  • Answer your questions and help you determine the best path to reach your goals,
  • Help you determine whether you or your spouse is most likely to be granted custody by the family court,
  • Help you to draft pleadings to accomplish your goal, whether that is a divorce action asking for full custody, an action for separate support and maintenance asking for full custody, or a custody action asking the court to allow the child to live with you,
  • Gather the evidence and witness testimony you will need to prove your claim,
  • Locate and serve all parties with the pleadings,
  • Negotiate with your former spouse or other defendants to reach an agreement as to child custody,
  • Represent your interests in mandatory mediation, and
  • Try your case to a family court judge if the other party does not agree to your legitimate demands for custody.
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Learn About Child Custody Laws in SC

The Best Interests of the Child

How does the family court determine child custody in SC?

The court must decide custody based on the best interests of the child. SC Code Section 63-15-240(B) contains a list of factors that the courts must consider when determining the best interests of the child, whether the court is issuing a custody order for the first time or modifying a pre-existing custody order.

These include:

(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.

Other SC Child Custody Laws

In addition to the statutory factors for determining child custody, there are several additional SC child custody laws, including:

  • SC Code Section 63-15-30 – the court must consider the child’s preference for custody “based upon the child’s age, experience, maturity, judgment, and ability to express a preference,”
  • SC Code Section 63-15-40 – the court must consider any evidence of domestic violence in the home including physical or sexual abuse and who the primary aggressor was,
  • SC Code Section 63-15-20 – when a child is being placed with an individual, agency, or institution, the court must consider the child’s religion and whether it is the same as the individual, agency, or institution, and
  • SC Code Section 63-15-10 – abolishes the “Tender Years Doctrine,” doing away with any presumption that a younger child should be placed with the mother.

Types of Child Custody in SC

There are several types of child custody arrangements in South Carolina, including several possible combinations of legal and physical custody that may include:

  • Sole legal custody – where one parent is responsible for making important decisions on behalf of the child,
  • Joint legal custody – where both parents make important decisions together on behalf of the child, acting in the child’s interests, or each parent is responsible for making these decisions in specific areas of the child’s life, like education, religious upbringing, and medical decisions,
  • Sole physical custody – where the child lives full-time with one parent, and the other parent has regular visitation with the child, and
  • Shared physical custody – where the child’s time is split between the parents’ homes in a proportion decided by the parents or the court based on the best interests of the child.

Child Visitation Rights

In most cases, one parent will be given sole physical custody while the other parent is given reasonable visitation rights.

Visitation is usually based on a schedule that is negotiated between the parents or ordered by the family court, but it will usually consist of a standard visitation schedule with alternating weekends and holidays and additional time during summer and school breaks.

FAQ for Child Custody Lawyers in Horry County, SC

Do You Need a Child Custody Attorney?

You are not required to have a child custody lawyer, but we recommend you consult with an experienced child custody attorney before making any decisions or moving forward.


There are too many ways that you can lose custody of your children or even get punished by the family court for not knowing the family court rules and SC’s child custody laws. Although I can’t cover every possible pitfall here, some of the more common mistakes people make include:

  • Not effecting proper service,
  • Filing in the wrong venue,
  • Not including the necessary language in your pleadings to state a cause of action or establish jurisdiction,
  • Missing critical deadlines,
  • Not requesting or engaging in discovery when needed,
  • Not understanding the family court rules and the SC rules of evidence,
  • Failing to respond to demands from the court or motions from opposing counsel,
  • Failing to argue or prove the statutory factors for child custody, or
  • Not being familiar with other SC child custody laws and appellate opinions.

How Can a Child Custody Lawyer Help?

Your Horry County child custody attorney will learn the facts of your case, research any legal issues that may arise, ensure that your pleadings are complete, serve your pleadings on all interested parties, file any motions that are required, respond to the court’s requests, ensure that you know when your deadlines and court appearances are, negotiate to achieve your goals, present your evidence to opposing counsel, mediators, and the court, answer your questions, and be there with you at every stage of the proceedings.

Is the Mother More Likely to Get Custody in SC?

The “Tender Years Doctrine,” which required judges to give preference to mothers when placing very young children, has been abolished in South Carolina.

Although some individual judges may still show a bias in the placement of young children, the law says that a father is just as capable of raising a young child as a mother, and this should not factor into a court’s decision regarding the best interests of a child.

Can the Child Choose Where They Live?

The family court must consider a child’s preference for custody “based upon the child’s age, experience, maturity, judgment, and ability to express a preference.” This means that a child’s preference should be given more weight when the child is older and more mature, but the child’s preference should always be considered.

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