How Do Grandparents Get Custody of Their Grandchildren in South Carolina?

By Elizabeth Rayne

In certain limited circumstances, child custody can be awarded to grandparents. However, obtaining this arrangement in South Carolina is a difficult process, as the parents must first be deemed unfit and either voluntarily or involuntarily relinquish custody. The process begins with the filing of a motion, followed by a court hearing and the presentation of evidence that will lead the court to a decision on whether awarding custody to the grandparents is in the child's best interest.

Legal Relationships

Many grandparents seek custody or guardianship of their grandchildren in order to make decisions for the child, and also to keep unfit parents away from the child. Without legal custody or guardianship, you may not make medical or educational decisions on behalf of the child.

Voluntary vs. Involuntary Relinquishment

In some cases, the parents may relinquish custody to grandparents. Parents may relinquish custody temporarily, during times of illness or financial distress, and then reclaim custody at a time when they are able to take care of the children. However, if the parents do not voluntarily give up custody, the grandparents must file a petition for custody in family court. The court will schedule a hearing to determine if it is in the best interest of the child to award custody to the grandparents.

Get a free, confidential bankruptcy evaluation. Learn More

Custody Determinations

In South Carolina, as in all states, the court is primarily concerned with the welfare of the child in making custody determinations. The court makes such decisions on a case-by-case basis, and will consider the specific facts in each situation. Further, the natural parents have "superior rights" to custody of their child over any other person, including grandparents. For this reason, it is quite difficult to convince South Carolina courts that grandparents should be awarded custody in preference to parents. In order to do so, the grandparents must demonstrate that the natural parents are unfit to take care of the child, and the grandparents would be better caretakers. For example, evidence that the parents are drug dealers, or abuse their children, may go to show that the parents are not fit to take care of the child.

De Facto Custodian

In some cases, a grandparent may become the legal guardian of a grandchild by qualifying as a "de facto custodian." In order to do so, you must show clear and convincing evidence that you were the primary caregiver and financial provider for the child. Additionally, if the child is under 3 years old, the child must have lived with you for at least at least six months. For children 3 and older, the time period must be at least one year.

Foster Care

If your grandchildren are currently in foster care, you may be able to have custody transferred to you. In order to do so, you must demonstrate to the court that state care is not necessary and that you can provide a proper home for your grandchildren. The state may complete a home study, where an investigator will visit your home, interview you, and perform background checks on all people who live in your house.

Get a free, confidential bankruptcy evaluation. Learn More
How to Establish a Guardian for the Children When Both Biological Parents Are Divorced
 

References

Related articles

Custody Rights of Grandparents

It’s not all that unusual for grandparents to raise their grandchildren instead of the children's parents. However, the rights that grandparents have when it comes to custody of their grandchildren can vary depending on the state where they live and the family circumstances that cause them to seek custody.

Do I Need an Attorney to Obtain Legal Guardianship of My Minor Grandchild?

Legal guardianship is a status that allows a person, such as a grandparent, to care for a minor child and make decisions on her behalf. The laws governing guardianships vary between states, but in most jurisdictions, you need a file a petition with the court to obtain legal guardianship of your minor grandchild. Although it is possible to obtain legal guardianship without an attorney, in many cases, it is advisable for grandparents to retain counsel.

Laws Governing Child Custody in South Carolina

Divorcing spouses in South Carolina who agree on how to split custody of their child are free to come up with their own parenting plan that suits their needs and the needs of their child. As long as a South Carolina court finds the plan to be in the child’s best interests, the court will adopt the plan as part of the divorce decree. If spouses cannot agree, the court will create a custody plan for them according to the child’s best interests.

Related articles

Guardian Instructions for Minor Guardianship

Parents are considered the natural guardians of their biological or adopted children. If the parents are unable or ...

Can You Give Up Legal Custody of Your Grandchildren?

One in ten of all American children now live with a grandparent, according to a 2010 Pew Research Center report. If you ...

Do Grandparents Have Rights to See Grandchildren If the Parents Don't Want Them To?

No matter how close grandparents are to their grandchildren, they rarely have a legal right to visitation or custody. A ...

How to File for Custody of a Minor in Mobile, Alabama

Custody disputes commonly arise as the result of divorce or paternity proceedings. The Alabama legislature has enacted ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED