The matter of child custody between two parents who are no longer together can understandably become extremely overwhelming. It may, in fact, be so overwhelming for some, that they would rather a permanent court custody order be imposed that could never be modified. However ideal this notion may be though, this is not a reality for many couples.
How/When to Modify
Child custody orders and/or agreements are capable of being modified where there has been a significant or substantial change in circumstances since the last order was issued. When one parent determines such a change in circumstances exists, and that the best interests of their child mandate modification in the custody arrangement, they may file an action for child custody modification in South Carolina. Under the South Carolina Code of Laws § 63-15-240, in either issuing or modifying a custody order the court must consider the best interests of the child, which may include, but is not limited to, the following factors:
- the temperament and developmental needs of the child(ren);
- the ability of the parents to understand and meet the needs of the child(ren), and ability to be actively involved in their life;
- the preferences of the child(ren), especially as he/she/they grow older;
- the relationship between the child with each parent, siblings, and any other person, including a grandparent, who may significantly affect the best interest of the child;
- the conduct of each parent to encourage or discourage the continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent (this includes both parents’ compliance with court orders or court-approved custodial agreement);
- evidence of any manipulative and/or coercive behavior of the parents in an effort to involve the child in the parents’ dispute;
- the child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community environments;
- the stability of the child’s existing and proposed place of residence;
- the mental and physical health of all parties involved;
- evidence of abuse and/or neglect;
- evidence of domestic violence by either parent;
- whether a parent has relocated more than one hundred (100) miles from the child’s primary residence; and
- other factors as the court considers necessary.
No single factor is determinative of the family court’s decision to modify an existing custody arrangement, but depending on the unique circumstances in a given case, one factor may weigh heavily over another in the court’s determination.
Where there is a substantial change in circumstances related to one of the many factors listed above, or otherwise, it is possible that a South Carolina family court will grant a modification in an existing child custody order or visitation arrangement. It is important for parents to take a step back and reflect on whether a modification would be in the best interests of the child(ren), because the time, expense and emotional toll that a further court proceeding can take on a family can be tremendous.
Contact our Family Lawyers Today
Obtaining and modifying child custody and visitation can be a complex and difficult legal process. In order to explore and protect your parental rights, contact the family law attorneys at Klok Law Firm LLC to discuss your case.