One of the hardest types of cases a Family Court judge or a Family Court lawyer must deal with are those cases where one parent wants to move with the child/ren a long distance away from the other parent. South Carolina courts recognize the need to “balance the custodial parent’s right to relocate with the minor children against the non-custodial parent’s right to continue his or her relationship with the [children] as established before the custodial parent’s relocation.”
However, once a parent moves with the child at a great distance from the other parent, they have lessened the other parent’s involvement and influence on the child’s life. For this reason, the South Carolina courts look at relocation cases with great scrutiny. Family Court judges take very seriously issuing an order that may hinder a parent’s involvement in a child’s life because of a long-distance move. In the case of Latimer v. Farmer, 360 S.C. 375, 602 S.E.2nd 32 (2004), the court set out a checklist that South Carolina Family Court judges should use when considering whether or not to allow a parent to move a great distance from the other parent with the child. Here are the criteria that a Family Court judge should consider according to the Latimer case.
- The parents’ reasons/motives for/or against the move (not a whim, not to thwart visitation, not mandatory, military transfer, etc.) and, the motive for the move.
- The quality of the relationship between the parent and child.
- The impact of the move on the quality of the visiting parent’s and child’s relationship.
- Feasibility of preserving the relationship of the visiting parent and child if the move is allowed.
- The economic, emotional, and educational impact of the move.
- The general advantages and disadvantages of moving or staying, e.g. family ties, moral upbringing, in general, and the relevant change of conditions arising out of the move.
However, the family court, even after taking these factors into consideration, will always look at what is in the best interest of the child.
If you are thinking about leaving the State of South Carolina with your child or the child’s other parent has taken the child from the state, please call me at 864 689 4482 to discuss your rights as a parent. Every case is different. There is not a simple cookie-cutter answer to every legal situation.