In most Greenville, SC custody cases, one parent will get primary custody of the child. The non-custodial parent will get visitation rights for weekends, holidays, and more. As long as the parents live relatively close to each other, this time split works. But tension often arises when the custodial parent decides to move. What can the non-custodial parent do when this happens?
These cases typically begin with the custodial parent wanting to relocate to take a new job or get married. The two parties discuss ways to adjust to the change, but can’t make it work. In cases like this, a court may consider the move to be a substantial change in circumstances. This, in turn, will justify modifying the order.
Not all moves necessarily affect the non-custodial parent’s rights. If a move is within the same city or even in the same state, the visitation arrangement may be maintained. South Carolina laws make it difficult for a non-custodial parent to keep the custodial parent from relocating within the state. In fact, absent a “compelling reason” or a prior agreement barring such a move, a court cannot prevent it.
However, in-state moves can cause disruption to the non-custodial parent’s visitation. Prior to the move, for example, the parents may have had a drop off point midway between their residences. If the child can still be at the drop off point in time, the move may present no issues. Or the parents can settle on a new drop off location and make necessary adjustments. Making these minor adjustments may still require a modification of the order. In any case involving a move, speak to a Greenville, SC custody attorney about how best to effectuate it.
The situation is entirely different when a parent wants to move outside of South Carolina. In this case, the move requires the approval of the non-custodial parent and the court. If the non-custodial parent does not agree to the move, the custodial parent can ask the court to allow it. The Greenville, SC judge will ask several questions as he or she evaluates the custodial parent’s request to move:
- What are the motivations and intentions of both parents? This means the motives of not just the parent seeking to move, but the one trying to prevent it.
- Has the move been thought out, or is it merely being done on a whim? A court will examine if the move will substantially benefit the custodial parent and the child.
- What are the potential advantages of the move? For instance, economic (better job); academic (better schools); social (stronger family support and better living conditions).
- Is there a practical and realistic alternative visitation arrangement? And will it continue to foster the relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent?
During the court hearing, both sides must present evidence as to why the judge should rule in their favor. The custodial parent needs to show how each of these factors weigh in favor of the move. The non-custodial parent must demonstrate that these factors weigh against the move. Both sides can present such evidence as documents, witnesses, school records, or anything else relevant. If you’re a non-custodial parent, your Greenville, SC custody attorney will ask you questions taking these factors into account. Your job is to provide answers which will help your attorney develop a courtroom strategy for advocating your position.
Once both sides present their evidence and arguments, the court will make its decision. If the judge approves the move, he or she will issue new visitation arrangements. It’s important to prepare for this possible outcome with your Greenville, SC custody attorney. This means assuming the judge may rule in favor of the custodial parent. Understand your work schedule, and how flexible it may be to any necessary changes. Tell your lawyer about any conflicts that a visitation change may cause. Know what you can and cannot accommodate in the way of schedule adjustments. This information should be conveyed to the judge so he or she can consider it when issuing a new schedule.
Dedicated Greenville, SC Custody Attorneys
Your rights as a non-custodial parent need to be taken into consideration with any custody changes. We’re here to make sure your voice as a parent is heard. If the custodial parent is looking to relocate, count on the Custody Lawyers at Greenville Family Law to represent you. We’re here to help you today.