If you're a non-custodial parent and your former spouse is considering relocating with the children, you may be left wondering about your options. While contending with the emotionally difficult idea that your children may be moved to another state, you will also need to navigate some thorny legal issues, including a the possibility of a custody modification claim. Keep reading to find out more about relocation and whether a potential modification is even possible.
If your former spouse wants to relocate and you're opposed to the idea, you may consider filing an action to ask the Family Court to change the custody arrangement. When parents do this, they usually claim that the impending relocation justifies a second look at the existing custody plan, which is known in legal terms as a modification. For a modification to occur, one parent must demonstrate to the court that there has been a substantial change in circumstance affecting the welfare of the children that would justify a change in the existing custodial relationship.
Most people assume that a relocation on its own is enough to justify changing custody, believing that the move qualifies as a substantial change in circumstances. Unfortunately, that is not the case in South Carolina. Our courts have been clear that while relocation can be one factor taken into account when considering a potential change in circumstances, the relocation in and of itself may not be sufficient for child custody modification in South Carolina.
One of the key aspects that the court will focus upon is the impact of the relocation on the children, and this analysis is very fact specific. Given this, courts will not automatically assume that relocating necessarily burdens the non-custodial parent's visitation rights or that the relocation negatively impacts the children. Instead, both of these things must be proven to the court's satisfaction before a modification of custody request will succeed.
Custody modification cases are very complicated, and you should make sure you have an experienced attorney handling your case and protecting your interests. When facing important issues, such as your relationship with your children, it's not the time to find the least expensive attorney, because as with most things in life, you usually get what you pay for.
Ben Stevens is a Fellow in the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and he is the only attorney in the Upstate that is a Fellow in the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. He has handled countless child custody cases, and he has the experience, knowledge, staff, and other tools to help put you in the best position to obtain a favorable outcome in your case. To request a consultation with Mr. Stevens, contact our office today at (864) 598-9172 or use our convenient online contact form.