One of the difficult moments after any divorce occurs when one parent decides, for whatever reason, that they need to relocate. When children are involved, moving to a new city or state is no easy task, especially if the other parent intends to stay behind. Even in the best cases, where exes communicate and co-parent well together, it can be almost impossible to handle a relocation issue without court intervention.
Several factors play into cases about relocating with kids after divorce. The first thing that impacts these parental relocation cases is whether the relocating parent is the primary custodian of the children. Only primary custodians have the option of moving with the children; the noncustodial parents are then left to object to any attempted relocation. The next issue that courts consider is whether the relocation is taking place within South Carolina or involves a move to another state.
This is important because South Carolina law is clear that it's difficult for noncustodial parents to stop custodial parents from relocating with the kids to another part of South Carolina. South Carolina Code Annotated Section 63-3-530 says that courts may not issue orders which prohibit a custodial parent from moving his or her residence to a location within the state unless there is a compelling reason to do so or the parties themselves previously agreed to such a restriction. That means if the relocation is within the State, chances are that the court will not prevent the move. Judges will often adjust the visitation schedule to account for travel and transportation time and expense, but the move will likely not be prevented.
Out-of-state moves are a different matter entirely and involve the weighing of various factors. Judges are required to consider the possible advantages of the proposed relocation, including economic benefits; the possibility the move might improve the quality of life of the custodial parent and the children; the motives of the parents in seeking to move or in attempting to block a move; and finally, the availability of a practical alternate visitation arrangement that would allow for continued contact between the children and the noncustodial parent. Those seeking to win a request for out-of-state relocation must demonstrate that the factors support the move and the parent opposed must try and show the opposite.
It's important to understand that relocation cases are very fact-specific and every case is different. Because the facts are unique to each case, you should not attempt to base the likelihood of success or failure of your situation on the outcome of someone else's situation. If you have questions or concerns about custody issues, contact an experienced South Carolina family law attorney to determine what options are available to you.