An important part of being a responsible father is spending regular quality time with your child.

While the Department of Social Services (DSS) and Child Support Enforcement (CSE) can establish legal paternity and child support orders, there are no S.C. state agencies that assist fathers with establishing legal visitation rights. Legal aid is not usually available to fathers working full-time jobs for minimum wage, because their income exceeds guidelines.

What can a father do to gain visitation?

Pro se visitation complaints let fathers represent their interests without having to hire a lawyer.

Pro se [pronounced pro-say] is the legal term used when the person filing a complaint represents himself. Another term you may hear is self-represented litigant. To file a pro se visitation complaint, a father should:

  • Consider and define the visitation he wants family court to grant
  • File the complaint in the county/state where the child resides
  • Make sure the visitation schedule is spelled out in the final visitation order

Since hiring a lawyer is often too expensive, many fathers have to rely on the goodwill of the custodial parent to maintain visitation. When mothers revoke visitation, some fathers withhold child support in retaliation, which only makes the situation more difficult. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when seeking visitation rights.

Use this website to learn how to submit a request for visitation and represent yourself in court.

Create a visitation schedule

Visitation schedules presented in family court must be practical, age-appropriate for the child, and made with the child’s needs taking priority over the father’s convenience. They must also be specific. Without a defined schedule, the court will have trouble enforcing the order.

Improve & increase visitation

These practical, legal steps help fathers obtain, improve and increase visitation.

Know your rights

If a father has been denied visitation after the court has granted it, he can file a Pro Se Affidavit stating that his visitation rights are being denied.

  • The court will schedule a Rule to Show Cause hearing asking the mother to show cause as to why the father is being denied visitation.
  • If the mother is found in contempt, penalties can be up to one year in jail and/or a $1,500 fine.

While affidavits vary from state to state, most states have a similar process. Fathers can contact the family court where the original visitation order was issued to find out about the process.

Did you know?

Important things to know about visitation and child support.

  • The law views child support and visitation as separate issues, so the father’s payment history should not be an issue in a visitation hearing.
  • Likewise, the court will not consider lack of visitation as a reason to alter child support payments.
  • Shared parenting, however, may be a viable reason to recalculate child support based on visitation. When a child spends more than 109 nights per year with the father, the father may pursue lower child support using the Shared Parenting Worksheet.