Situations involving children are often among the most sensitive and hotly contested in family court. Decisions made during child custody and support hearings, either among unmarried parents or during divorce proceedings, can have long ranging impacts on your relationship with your child and your financial security. While you can face serious penalties for not obeying a judge’s order, including potential jail time, there are situations in which the terms can be changed or modified.
South Carolina Proceedings For Child Custody & Support
Decisions made in court proceedings regarding child custody and support issues are subject to the South Carolina Children’s Code. The court’s primary goal is protecting the interests of the child or children involved in the case, and it is generally thought they are best served by being allowed frequent and ongoing contact with both of their parents. If possible, joint child custody arrangements are increasingly preferred by judges as opposed to giving one parent sole custody while the other has visitation. Factors that influence custody determinations include:
The age and maturity level of the child
The ability of the parent’s to meet the child’s needs
The current and previous relationship between the parent and child
The distance between the parent’s homes and the child’s school
Scheduling needs for both the parents and the child
The ability of each parent to work with the other in meeting the child’s needs
Any past allegations of domestic violence, child abuse, or neglect
In addition to playing an active and engaged role in their child’s life, parents also have the duty to provide for their child’s support. Depending on the child custody arrangements, child support amounts will be ordered based on South Carolina child support guidelines, along with the parent’s income and the child’s needs. If one of the parents is unemployed, an amount will be imputed based on their prior experience, skill, and education level.
Changing Your Child Custody Or Support Order
Once a child custody and support order is in place, you will generally have to go back to court to change it. If the amount of child support you pay was ordered through the South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS), they can request a modification on your behalf, but it may take a considerable amount of time to accomplish. Your other option, and in cases where child support and custody issues were handled by a private attorney or during divorce proceedings, is to file a motion for a modification with the family court. It is important to understand that there must be substantial changes in a situation before a modification will be granted. This includes:
When one of the parents moves or relocates
When there are changes to income, such as with a job loss or a promotion
When there are allegations of abuse or neglect
When a parent’s general conduct puts the child at risk of harm
Get Help Today
To discuss the options for modifying child support or custody in your case, contact the Surasky Law Firm, LLC and request a consultation with our Aiken, SC family law attorney today.