Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) – Family Law – South Carolina

(Involuntary) Termination of Parental Rights – Family Law – South Carolina

Termination of parental rights is a rather complex issue and often comes up in Department of Social Services (DSS) cases.   In this blog, I will focus on some of the more typical issues encountered.

Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights

If a parent’s rights are to be terminated, first there must be a ground as provided in the South Carolina Code of Laws.  The approved grounds are listed in S.C. Code Section 63-7-2570.  In my experience most common grounds for termination are:  1) failure to visit, 2) failure to support, and 3) child has been in foster care fifteen (15) of twenty-two (22) months.

Each ground listed above have certain requirements.  These requirements have to do with whether the failure was willful.  For example, failure to visit requires that a parent fail to visit a) for a six month period and b) that the parent had not been prevented from visiting.

Failure to support means that you have failed to make a) contributions of food, clothing, shelter, or other necessities for the care of the child b) according to the parent’s means.  What this means is that a parent should always pay or provide some sort of support to a child even if a parent is on child support and can’t pay the full amount.

Finally, there are no conditions on the child being in foster care for fifteen (15) of twenty-two (22) months, making this one of the most dangerous provisions in DSS cases.  There is little willfulness here and DSS case can sometimes go on for long periods of time.

Best Interests of the Child

In addition to having a statutory ground, termination must also be in the best interests of the child.  To determine best interests, the Court often appoints a Guardian ad Litem to represent the child.  The Guardian is essentially an investigator that reports back to the Court what they believe is best for the child.  It is important to note that the Guardian may advocate a position that does not take into consideration the rights of the parent, as they are only concerned with what is best for the child.

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Please remember that each case is unique. If you have any questions about termination of parental rights, department of social service(s) cases, child custody, visitation, child support or Family Law in general, we urge you to contact us.  In order to be flexible and convenient, we have open office hours, easy appointment scheduling, and payment plans available. Call today and schedule your free confidential consultation.

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