As a parent considers moving to another community or state for jobs, new spouses, family members who need care, or another reason, he or she must be mindful of South Carolina law if he or she is a custodial parent of a minor child. No matter what the circumstances, even a relatively short move can dramatically affect a child’s parenting plan. Therefore, it may be necessary for one or both parents to seek a modification of the parenting plan based on the proposed move. While South Carolina law does not specifically outline the circumstances under which a parent may relocate with a minor child, the law does help define what proof is necessary to justify a custody modification in light of a proposed relocation by one parent.
Relocation and Modifications
In order to justify a custody modification, the non-relocating parent seeking the modification must prove that there has been a substantial change in circumstances that affects the welfare of the child to the extent that it would justify a change in the current custody order. In other words, the parent must show that changing the current custody order would be in the best interests of the child. While relocation with a child can trigger a significant change in the parties’ parenting plan, it is not always sufficient on its own to justify a child custody modification. Relocation is only one factor that a court can consider in determining whether a custody modification is warranted in a particular case. Therefore, parents should not assume that a proposed relocation will automatically result in a custody change.
Burden of Proof in Relocation Modifications
Unless the parties’ divorce order or settlement agreement has an express provision that addresses relocation of the parents, it is up to the non-relocating parent to challenge the other parent’s proposed move. This means that the non-relocating parent has to provide the court with sufficient evidence that moving the child away would not be in his or her best interests. Aside from a general best interests of the child inquiry, a South Carolina court might consider other factors that commonly relate to the proposed relocation, such as the reason for the relocation, the degree to which a relocation would improve the child’s health, education, and general circumstances, the current relationship between the child and the non-relocating parent, and the effect of the move on the relationship between the child and the non-relocating parent.
Call Elliott Frazier Law Firm, LLC, for Help
Although relocation does happen on a frequent basis, a non-relocating parent needs a strong advocate on his or her side to ensure that his or her interests are protected. Do not assume that your child’s other parent will be able to automatically relocate and adversely affect your relationship with your child. Plus, even if your child’s other parent does relocate, you will need to have a long-distance parenting plan in place that safeguards your relationship with your child. Rather, allow us to work with you to create the strategy that is best designed to achieve your goals. Call our office today at (864) 214-3621 and learn how the team at the Elliott Frazier Law Firm, LLC, can assist you with your South Carolina child custody modification case.