Seperated several years and very concerned about son

Question:

Wife left with my son 3.5 years ago (he will be four in March).
I realize that I should have done something then but didn’t. At first it was in hope of saving the marriage and later it became a matter of finances.
I drive 400 miles every two weeks to spend one day and night with my son in a campground. She has made it clear that if I take my son out of her area that I will never see him again. I send child support every two weeks faithfully even though there has never been an order nor have I ever spent a holiday or birthday with my son.
I hired a PI at the end of last year to try and discover a pattern in my son’s life. I know that DCS has been involved but I do not know at what extent.
My son lives more with his grandmother than he does his mother. The last few visits have been very difficult. There has been drastic changes in his behavior that I don’t understand and am very concerned about. He seems terrified of something. I want to just bring him home and file proceedings here but I don’t want to harm him in anyway.
I don’t know what to do. Is there anything that I can file with the courts or DCS while trying to obtain legal representation?

Answer:

Allow me to preface my answer to your question with the disclaimer that I am not licensed to practice law in the state of South Carolina. I am unsure where your wife lives. Does she live out of state? If so, for how long? These are the key questions. Under the UCCJA (federal jurisdiction statute), your son’s whereabouts and for how long are the key to filing any action. It requires in general that the state where the minor child has resided for the past 6 months be his home state and hence where the action is filed. You definitely need to file to get yourself more meaningful time with your son. As soon as you determine what state is appropriate, I suggest you file for divorce and ask for a temporary custody order as soon as possible.
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