Legal Question in Family Law in South Carolina

*Regarding South Carolina law*

My common law wife left in mid January to continue her drug addiction and to be with another man. She left our 13yo son and her other 2 (18 & 16) children which i have raised since birth, here with me. This has happened many times over the years and this time she won't be back in my life. I have many questions and I'll try to be specific and elaborate best I can.

I have never paid child support through the courts but have regularly paid her weekly over the years. Though we never dealt with receipts, I have copies from several of her South Carolina DSS contribution forms for food stamps stating what i have given her and for how long.

*Q: Is this enough to keep me from paying back child support for my son if she decided to take me to court?

The kids have been living with this time since February 2012. I had to pick them up from her and her boyfriends house because she had 6 felony warrants served on her. I let her move in with me when she bonded out and she stayed here with me for 10 months.

*Q What is the best way to prove the children live her for court purposes, if ever need be?

I have a feeling that when she starts getting her disability and her back pay, she will try to come and take my son out of the home to live with her. She Is currently on probation for the previous mentioned crimes and has an extensive medical treatment record for several conditions including depression, anxiety, insomnia and schizophrenia, which she takes medication for all. She also abuses pain medication.

I have had my run-in's with the law but have not been in trouble in several years. I have a steady job, a stable home and great references from the child's principal,counselor and teachers which I am faithfully involved with.

*Q: What kind of a chance do I stand if i try for custody?

Asked on 3/09/13, 10:20 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Barbara Strowd Barbara A. Strowd, Attorney at Law
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As to your first question, it appears that there has never been an order for child support for either parent. If there has not been an order for you to pay child support then it is very unlikely that you would ever have to pay "back child support." It is difficult to get an order for back child support and based upon the history you have provided I believe you should remove this from your list of worries. In my experience the Courts prefer to look forward rather than backwards.

Now as to your second question, there are several ways to prove that the children live with you. You would definitely want to use their school records and possibly their medical records. If, or when, you go to court you will likely have a temporary hearing. At the temporary hearing you will be permitted to submit affidavits from family, friends and/or neighbors. These affidavits (sworn statements that must be notarized) will allow the judge to know what the people have witnessed, including you raising the children.

As to your final question, based upon the facts you have provided you have a good chance to be awarded custody of the 2 minor children. Even though the 16 yr old is not your biological child, SC recognizes "psychological parents." A psychological parent is a parent that steps in and acts as a parent to a non-biological child. The mother's drug use will help you win custody. The mother leaving without the children also helps you. Make sure you request a drug test at the first hearing you attend and make it clear to the judge that she is a drug user. You need to get this matter into court as soon as possible so that you and the children will know that everyone is safe and sound. I am certain the stress is affecting you and the children. The best advice I am able to provide to you is to make sure you hire an attorney to assist you in this battle and please make sure that the attorney is experienced in the family court.

Best of Luck!

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3/10/13, 12:54 am

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