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Parental Relocation in Child Custody Cases

Posted by J. Benjamin Stevens | Oct 25, 2015 | 0 Comments

Parental relocation can be a tricky issue to navigate in the context of a South Carolina divorce or child custody case. On the one hand, one person may feel the need to move for important career or financial reasons, meanwhile the other parent (the non-custodial parent) may be very upset at the thought of being farther away from the children they love. Keep reading to learn more about parental relocation in child custody cases.

In-State Relocation in Child Custody Cases

The potential for a protracted child custody dispute is somewhat less in cases involving in-state moves. The reason is that it is much more difficult for a non-custodial parent to stop the custodial parent from relocating with the children within South Carolina. In fact, legislators in South Carolina went so far as to write statutory language clarifying that courts may not prohibit custodial parents from moving within South Carolina unless there has been sufficient evidence justifying such a prohibition. To do this, a non-custodial parent would have to show that the move would not be in the best interest of the child or that the parents had previously entered into an agreement agreeing not to relocate.

Out-of-State Relocation in Child Custody Cases

Things can become much more difficult and contested in the event of an out-of-state relocation, given the increased likelihood that the non-custodial parent can disrupt the move. Rather than rely on the presumption that such a relocation is allowed, out-of-state relocations are typically viewed more skeptically by judges and the custodial parent must clear a higher hurdle before the relocation will be approved.

Family Court Judges in South Carolina deciding a case involving an out-of-state relocation will have to take four factors into account when deciding whether to permit the move:

  1. First, judges will consider the advantages of the location, usually relating to career growth or an improvement in one party's financial situation.
  2. They will also consider the likelihood that the move would lead to an improvement in the quality of life of the parent and child.
  3. The motives of the two parents will also be considered, whether the desire to leave or the desire to stay are genuine or meant purely to be uncooperative.
  4. Finally, the judge will consider whether there are alternate visitation arrangements that would allow the relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent to avoid being damaged.

If you are facing a child custody case involving relocation issues, it is important to consult an experienced child custody attorney to discuss the options available to you based on the facts of your specific case. Like many other issues in Family Court cases, there is no “one size fits all” solution, and relying on the advice from friends and family, no matter how well intentioned, can lead to you making the wrong decision. There are better and worse ways to handle these cases, and knowing what to do and when can make a difference in the outcome of your case.

Ben Stevens has handled child custody case for over two decades, and he understands the complex issues that are unique to and involved in them. Mr. Stevens is one of a handful of attorneys in South Carolina to be Fellows in the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and he is only of only six attorneys in our state to be a Fellow in the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. If you would like to request a consultation with Mr. Stevens, you are welcome to contact our office at (864) 598-9172 or click here.

About the Author

J. Benjamin Stevens

Senior Partner


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