South Carolina Child Custody Laws When Moving Out of State

Contact Us
5 stars (150+)
5.0 Google Rated
100% Secure & Confidential

After a child custody order is entered by the court, the custodial parent may eventually decide to move out of the state. Relocation happens for many reasons, but it is more complicated when a custody order is involved. Whether you are the parent who is moving or the one who is remaining in the state, you must understand South Carolina child custody relocation laws. For help with your Greenville, SC family law matter, count on attorney Angela Frazier.

What Constitutes a Relocation?

“Relocation” does not include moving within the boundaries of South Carolina. As long as there is no compelling reason to prevent an in-state relocation or an agreement with the other parent not to move, the court cannot stop you.

Different rules apply when the custodial parent wants to move outside of South Carolina. The parent must ask the other parent and the court for permission to do so. If the other parent objects to the move, the relocating parent must ask the court for a hearing to approve the request, and the non-relocating parent can ask the judge to deny it.

What Does the Court Consider During a Relocation Hearing?

When a judge is asked to make a relocation decision, it is up to the parents to present evidence for or against the request. Documents, witness statements, and case precedent may all be considered. At the hearing, the judge will evaluate such matters as:

  • The advantages of moving out of state: These may include better employment opportunities, the chance to obtain a better education, or family support.
  • Quality of life: Whether and to what degree the move will improve both the child’s quality of life and that of the relocating parent.
  • The decision itself: Was the decision made abruptly or after thoughtful consideration? Was the decision made for a legitimate reason or to spite the other parent?
  • The impact on visitation: The court should consider whether alternative visitation arrangements can be established to protect the relationship between the child and the non-custodial (e.g. non-relocating) parent.

Both parents should present valid reasons for proposing or opposing the move. The court will then decide whether to permit the relocation. If the move is permitted, the judge will adjust the custody and visitation arrangements (and possibly child support, for instance, to account for increased transportation expenses) accordingly.

The “Best Interests of the Child” Standard

In all child custody decisions, including those that involve relocation requests, the court must primarily consider the best interests of the child. Regardless of the potential benefits to the relocating parent, the court must look at such issues as:

  • The child’s relationship with the parents: What is the child’s current relationship with both parents and how could the proposed move affect it?
  • The child’s age: This includes the child’s stage of development. A younger child, or one with stronger ties to his or her current location may be more negatively impacted by the move.
  • The child’s education and extracurricular activities: Moving could make it more difficult for the child to have a quality education or participate in sports, music, and other extracurriculars.
  • The child’s extended family: A judge will examine how the proposed relocation might affect the child’s relationship with extended family members, which may be critical to his or her development.
  • The proposed new living arrangements: The relocating parent should be prepared to explain what the child’s living arrangements will be in the new location, which includes the child’s access to healthcare and social support.

Reasons a Judge Might Deny a Relocation Request

The court may have a variety of reasons for rejecting the proposed relocation, including:

  • It would cause significant disruption to the child’s life.
  • There is a vindictive or retaliatory purpose behind the move.
  • The other parent would be denied reasonable visitation time with the child.
  • The child’s relationship with the other parent or extended family would be harmed.
  • The parent wishing to move did so without approval or without following the correct procedure.

What If I Am Moving Out of State With No Child Custody Agreement in South Carolina?

If you have no formal custody order yet, it is strongly advised that you do not move until you obtain one. Without an order in place, you could be charged with kidnapping the child. The court will not look kindly on a parent moving without any sort of plan in place to protect the non-custodial parent’s visitation rights. Talk to an attorney about seeking a custody order before you move.

How to Increase Your Chances of a Successful Relocation Request

It should be emphasized that South Carolina judges are not required to approve a relocation request, even if the parent believes he or she has a good reason to move. However, taking these steps will improve the likelihood that the court will allow your relocation:

Communicate with the other parent

Once you realize that you want or need to move, communicate that fact with the other parent.

Transparent and honest communication makes it less likely that the other parent will fight the relocation. Even if he or she ultimately opposes your request, you will be able to show the judge that you made a good-faith attempt to work with the other parent.

Prove that the move benefits the child

Although your relocation may be primarily based on a personal need, like obtaining better employment, you need to prove to the judge that it will benefit your child. Be prepared to show, for instance, that you have found a quality school in which to enroll your child. Be ready to demonstrate that the child will have access to good doctors and extracurricular activities. If it’s clear you have given careful consideration to your child’s interests, then the odds of being able to relocate will improve.

Contact a Greenville Child Custody Law Attorney Today

Finally, the best way to secure the court’s permission to move is to retain an experienced child custody lawyer. Elliott Frazier — Family, Personal Injury, & Car Accident Attorneys, LLC can explain South Carolina child custody laws about moving out of state. Our firm can also represent you if you’re the parent who objects to a proposed relocation. Get started today by giving our team a call.

Elliot Frazier Logo

We look forward to serving you!

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.