In South Carolina, parents that share a child but live apart, either due to separation or divorce, have to divide the custody of the child between them, making one parent the custodial parent and the other parent the noncustodial parent. These designations do not necessarily indicate how much time the child spends with each parent; parents could share custody of the child almost exactly evenly, yet one parent would need to be designated as the custodial parent. If one parent wants to move, it will impact the other parent’s ability to spend time with his or her child.
Relocation of a custodial parent and a child can be a stressful and emotional roller coaster. As a noncustodial parent, you may feel that the time you get to spend with your child is in jeopardy and is being threatened. You might feel empty at the thought of your child being moved so far away, and you might be angry that your child’s other parent is being selfish by moving your child away from you. These are all normal feelings to have when faced with the potential relocation of your child.
South Carolina laws and court systems try to keep children near their parents, without unduly burdening the parent that wishes to relocate. How impactful the state’s laws are concerning parental relocation depends on whether the relocation is in-state or out-of-state, as well as what is in the best interests of the child.
Relocation Within South Carolina
Under the S.C. Code Ann. Section 63-3-530(30), an in-state custodial parent relocation is generally acceptable unless a compelling reason to prevent the in-state relocation exists or if the parents had previously agreed that the child custody arrangement is geographically restricted by way of a parenting plan or some other agreement.
Relocation Outside of the Palmetto State
Out-of-state relocations of the custodial parent are a different matter, and the courts exercise more scrutiny when determining whether the relocation is in the best interest of the child. The South Carolina family court has adopted a four-part test provided by case law for determining if an out-of-state relocation is permissible. The test considers:
- The pros associated with the proposed relocation
- The intentions and motivations of each parent concerning the relocation
- If an alternative custody or visitation arrangement can be devised that is a practical and realistic substitute if the relocation were authorized
- If there is an actual and substantial likelihood that the quality of life will be improved for the child by the relocation
The court considers the above factors before authorizing or denying the custodial parent’s request to move the child to an out-of-state location. The court must permit and authorize the out-of-state relocation before the custodial parent can move, or else the parent may face criminal charges. If the court is not convinced that the relocation is a good idea, the judge will not permit it to happen.
Contacting A Charleston Child Custody Attorney
Relocation situations are often fraught with contention between the parents of the shared child. When you need to relocate, or prevent a relocation of your child, an experienced family law attorney can help. The Charleston child custody lawyers at Sarji Law Firm are ready and available to assist you today. Please contact us by calling 843-323-4341.