Modifying a Custody Order in South Carolina, How & When Can You Do It?

You or your ex already has custody of your child or children.  How do you modify this?  What are appropriate circumstances that would enable you to modify a custody order in South Carolina?  

Here’s your answer.  

The Basics Of Modification

Before we get into the potential circumstances that might enable you to be successful in seeking to modify a custody order, we should cover the three items that will be necessary to prove in any situation.

  1. There has been a material change in circumstances.  Your life has changed, and the situation in which you can or cannot parent is substantially different than it was when the custody was assigned. 
  2. The material change in your circumstances occurred after the custody order.  This means you cannot continue to rail about the circumstances as they were in the past, before the order, or use those as proof that you have always been right.  Simply put, focus on what has changed SINCE the order?
  3. The change in circumstances (from item 1) affects the child’s best interests.  Ostensibly, if your circumstances have changed – you would want to show they’ve improved, and if the other parent’s circumstances have changed, you might want to demonstrate they have regressed or become worse in some way. 

When a Family Court Might Modify a Custody Order in South Carolina

When we reference the criteria above, we want to focus on the situation surrounding the custodial parent (the one primarily with the kid(s)).  If you are the non-custodial parent and things improve in your life, that in itself is not necessarily justification for changing the custody order.  The goal here is what’s best and worst for the kiddos.  So, unless you can demonstrate that their situation under the custodial parent has changed for the worse, it’s an uphill battle to demonstrate that the custodial order should change based on your improvement alone.

Here are some situations that might demonstrate negative changes in circumstances related to the custodial parent’s situation.

The Custodial Parent Engaging in Immoral or Dangerous Conduct:  Morality testes are always subjective, but there are some common-sense no-no’s for any parent.  Examples of these might be exposure to or supply for consumption of age-inappropriate materials or substances (pornography, alcohol, tobacco, other illicit drugs).  Other examples might be leaving the kid(s) overnight by themselves, neglect, or other similar type situations. 

The Custodial Parent Lacks Parenting Skills: This could be wrapped up in the items we talked about in the immoral or dangerous conduct part above too.  Beyond placing children in questionable environments, a parent with poor skills might demonstrate their ineptitude by placing their own needs above their children (often or always).  Not taking care of the basic needs of the children or making poor choices that lead to the detriment of the children.  

The Children Have Excessive Challenges in School & Education: Are circumstances in the custodial parent’s household contributing to tardiness, absenteeism, failing grades, and otherwise failure in the children’s education?  If so, it may be due to poor parenting, or issues with the custodial plan. 

Sabotaging Your Relationship With Your Child:  Sometimes the custodial parent uses their time and effort with the children to bad mouth you, drive wedges in your relationship, restrict communication, unreasonably obstruct visitation, and even go so far as to file false allegations about or against you.  This is not a healthy environment for your child, and it’s not conducive to you being a parent to them either.  

You Can Get Help For This

If any of these situations above sound familiar, you can get help in modifying your custody order.  Contact our attorneys today; we are here for you!

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