Conway, SC asked in Family Law and Child Custody for Pennsylvania

Q: Kids Live in SC, I live in PA, Kids want to live with me, What is the process & what are my odds?

My kids live with their mother in SC, I live in PA, and we got divorced in NY.

The kids live with their mom and her alcoholic and verbally abusive boyfriend. They desperately want to live with me. They need to know what their odds of success are so they know if they want to move forward or not (Their worst fear is losing the case, and having to return to that unstable household). They are 12, 14, and 16. Our plan is when we pick them up for the summer, on June 11th, file the paperwork and they start school in September. They have stories of their mother and her boyfriend arguing extremely violently (verbal & physical).

We would like to know what are the odds of them successfully coming to live with us, and what is the process of doing so? Are their wishes alone plus the stories enough to have their wishes successfully granted?

Thanks, I appreciate your responses.

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3 Lawyer Answers

Cary B. Hall

  • Divorce Lawyer
  • Norristown, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: You will need to file for a change of custody in South Carolina -- so long as the children have lived there continuously for the past six months. There are uniform child custody jurisdiction laws to deal with situations like this, and most states follow the same rule: wherever the children have lived continuously for the past six months, that's considered the "home state," and custody wranglings must occur there.

In general, the older the children are, the more a court will listen to their desires about who they want to live with. Best bet is to file something in SC, and have the children talk to the judge. NOT a good situation for the children to be in (having to choose between parents), but I imagine at this point they want to have a voice about their immediate present and future.

Best of luck!

Kathryn Hilbush

  • Divorce Lawyer
  • Media, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: Also, although I can't speak for SC, giving yourself only the summer to get through a contested custody case certainly isn't realistic in PA.

Dawn Padanyi

  • Divorce Lawyer
  • Doylestown, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: I agree with my colleague regarding jurisdiction, if you do not already have a custody order. If you have a custody order in one state already, typically that State keeps the case until jurisdiction is transferred. You may need to return to the State that currently has jurisdiction of your custody matter. Schedule a consult with a local attorney that can hear ALL the facts and then advise you where you need to initiate this custodial change.

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