Custody in South Carolina is decided best on what is in the best interests of the child. When parents separate or divorce, they may create a parenting agreement together that divides up custody. If the parents cannot come to an agreement on how a child should share his time, a judge will decide on what is the best solution for the family. Both the parenting agreement and the judge’s decisions will become part of the custody order that parents have to abide by.
If you decide your current custody situation is not working for you, you need to go through an official legal process to change a custody order in South Carolina. Because custody and child support are linked under the law, altering your custody agreement can also change the amount of required child support that must be paid. The process of convincing a court that a change in a custody order is necessary can be complicated and you need to be represented by a Charleston divorce lawyer with extensive experience on child custody cases. Call Kuhn & Kuhn, LLC today to speak with a compassionate and knowledgeable attorney who can help you with all of your divorce and custody matters.
How to Change a Custody Order in South Carolina
To change a custody order in South Carolina, you will need to submit a petition to the family court with jurisdiction (authority) over the case. This generally means submitting the petition to the same court that entered the initial custody order.
If both parents are in agreement that it is appropriate to modify the current custody arrangement, the process of making the change should be relatively simple. The parents can petition jointly to modify the custody order in South Carolina and a judge should approve the request. When the custody order is modified, the child support formula calculations change. The standard child support formula takes into account the amount of time each parent spends with the child. If a non-custodial parent now gets custody of the child, for example, his support obligations would be eliminated and the other parent would begin having to pay.
If the parents do not agree that the custody order should be changed, the parent seeking the modification will need to make a compelling argument to the judge for why an alteration is necessary. As a general matter, courts do not like to change custody agreements too frequently because children need stability. A court may consider a change to an existing custody order if at least two years have passed since the prior order and/or if there has been a material change in circumstances that requires a modification.
If you believe circumstances have changed and your old custody arrangement no longer makes sense, it is up to you to prove it. Examples of a material change that may lead to a change in custody in South Carolina could include one parent moving or one parent becoming more or less stable and capable of providing a good home.
Kuhn & Kuhn, LLC can assist you in determining if it will be possible to change your custody arrangement and can help with a petition to modify a custody order in South Carolina. Call today to schedule a consultation and learn more.