Child Custody in South Carolina: The Home State Rule

Child Custody in South Carolina: The Home State Rule

Where your child custody case will be held depends on which court has jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is the power of the court to legitimately decide a dispute. When parties to a child custody dispute live in different states, it is important to understand which states’ courts will have the power to decide the custody of the child.

Child Custody Cases: The Home State Rule

The state that has jurisdiction to hear a child custody case is the “home state” of the child. A home state is defined by South Carolina Code Section 63-15-302(7). The main qualifier of being a home state is a time requirement. If a parent, or person acting as a parent, has not lived in South Carolina for six consecutive months, they cannot bring a child custody case in South Carolina. In the case of a baby under six months, the child custody case can be heard if the baby has lived with a parent or person acting as a parent since birth in South Carolina.

There are limited circumstances in which a South Carolina family court may hear a child custody case in emergency situations. South Carolina law authorizes a family law court, for example, to take temporary jurisdiction if a child has been abandoned or if a hearing is necessary to protect the child from mistreatment or abuse.

Courts May Decline Jurisdiction In Child Custody Cases

Just because South Carolina may qualify as a home state for a child does not necessarily mean that a family law court will consent to be the home state. If another state is a more convenient forum to hear the child custody case, the court may decline jurisdiction. This usually happens if both parents have now moved out of South Carolina or it is too much of a burden on one party to meet at the venue where the original custody case was filed. South Carolina family courts may also decline jurisdiction if a person seeking to invoke jurisdiction has engaged in unjustifiable conduct such as kidnapping or violating a previous court order.

A Mt Pleasant Child Custody Attorney Can Help

Child custody is often an emotionally charged and conflict-prone area of the law. Having to argue a child custody case in a different state than you currently live in can make this period even more stressful. Whether or not South Carolina is an appropriate forum to hear your child custody case can be determined by a South Carolina family law attorney. If you are dealing with issues of family court jurisdiction in your child custody case, reach out to the child custody attorneys at Klok Law Firm LLC in Mt Pleasant, SC. Our years of experience serving the greater Charleston area can be put to work for you, help you reach the outcome in your case that you deserve.

Contact us today for a consultation on your case.