.

Grandparents and Family Court: What are Your Rights?

Do Grandparents have a RIGHT to visit or have contact with their grandchildren? The better question is: Do CHILDREN have a right to visit or have contact with their grandparents?

Most people/families will never have to deal with the family court system in any way, or will they?  Today, over 50% of marriages end in divorce, and personally I feel this is a National disgrace. This means that lots of children are living with one parent, and that is something that simply can't be helped after a divorce.

The problem of which parent's house the children call home is not the issue of this discussion, but let us assume, for the sake of discussion, they are living with their Mother.  We will also assume no one in the immediate or extended family have any problems with the law. (Overall, this is a group of good people who are law abiding)

What happens if mom and her in-laws can't get along?  Who suffers? The whole family has been split apart, dad no longer lives in the home, and now, the kids can't even see the dad's parents.  Never mind what the argument was, why should the children be deprived of their grandparents if they are good people?  What if the only issue is the fact that mom and dad don't like each other, so now they cant see the dad's parents?  Of course there can be other factors, but what if this is the only real issue?

I need to emphasize this discussion can just as easy be done in the opposite case.  If the children are living with the dad, exactly the same points apply, it's just easier to discuss using only one "side" at a time.

There is now a NEW law on the books to help with this situation.  In a case like this, where there is no real reason to deny the grandparents visits or contact with their grandchildren, and if all negotiation to fix the situation have failed, grandparents can go to family court, and sue for visitation rights.  This must be done in a private action, meaning lawyers are involved and DSS is NOT involved, just like during the divorce!

It must be remembered, the law has teeth!  It is worded to encourage negotiation rather than going to court.  The judge can order the LOSING party to pay all attorney fees and court costs, and THAT is VERY expensive!  The full text of this law can be read on the Grandparents Rights Association of South Carolina website www.grasc.org news page, and here is the brief description:

  • Summary: Grandparents visitation  6/24/2010 Signed By Governor

    AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 63‑3‑530, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO THE JURISDICTION OF THE FAMILY COURT, INCLUDING JURISDICTION TO ORDER VISITATION FOR GRANDPARENTS, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT THE COURT MAY ORDER GRANDPARENT VISITATION IF THE COURT FINDS THAT THE CHILD'S PARENTS ARE UNREASONABLY DEPRIVING THE GRANDPARENT VISITATION WITH THE CHILD AND HAVE DENIED VISITATION FOR MORE THAN NINETY DAYS, THAT THE GRANDPARENT MAINTAINED A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CHILD SIMILAR TO A PARENT‑CHILD RELATIONSHIP, THAT AWARDING VISITATION WOULD NOT INTERFERE WITH THE PARENT‑CHILD RELATIONSHIP, AND THAT THE PARENTS ARE UNFIT OR THAT THERE ARE COMPELLING CIRCUMSTANCES TO OVERCOME THE PRESUMPTION THAT THE PARENTAL DECISION IS IN THE CHILD'S BEST INTEREST; TO AUTHORIZE THE JUDGE TO AWARD ATTORNEY'S FEES TO THE PREVAILING PARTY; AND TO DEFINE “GRANDPARENT".

Grandparents don't have many rights in South Carolina, but we do have this one.

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Marcy Figard September 26, 2011 at 10:14 PM
The same law should be in effect even if the children are in foster care. No child should ever be denied their grandparents
Judy September 27, 2011 at 07:34 PM
The sad part is that these DYFS supervisors and workers become friends with the mother or father involved and believe whatever is said to them no matter what you do to prove the lies. I have also found that the county that brings the mother and children back together will receive more funds for accomplishing the reuniting of the family even after there have been many recommendations from professionals that they should not be reunited. So scary for these poor grandchildren, it sickens your heart.
Judge Blackwell (ret) October 09, 2011 at 05:08 PM
John is a hero but it is probably too late. Agreements to allow grandparent contact with their grandkids now violate public policy in South Carolina and thus are void. see bellasophie.com
Judge Blackwell (ret) October 10, 2011 at 03:58 PM
An interesting problem arises when trying to reconcile the new law and the court's holding in Blackwell v Birket (see bellasophie.com) If the parents and grandparents agree to visitation, that agreement is void as against public policy. Therefore, in order for there to be visitation, there must be a finding that is adverse to the parents. It would seem that it would be more reasonable to encourage parents and grandparents to voluntarily enter into such agreements rather than to for a hostile relationship to be required. The legislature seems to be getting the importance of grandparents but something must be done about the courts. The courts are interested only in continuing the "old boy" system of justice and the public good and justice be damned. So long as the court's continue to do business in the exiting corrupt manner, all the laws in the world will not help.
Leonard Henderson November 13, 2011 at 01:53 AM
I would LOVE to get a bunch of grandparents and other kin pissed off about THIS- http://www.familyrights.us/news/archive/2010/march/grand-kids_taken.html Leonard Henderson, co-founder American Family Rights http://familyrights.us "Until Every Child Comes Home"© "The Voice of America's Families"©
P. Gianesin July 31, 2012 at 03:29 AM
I am not sure where I stand as a grandparent. My daughter has discouraged any visitation between me and her son, who was raised in my home until he was at least 3 or 4, and then, I watched him in my home for 3-4 24 hr days a week. This was in another state. At this time, she is angry at me, and will not freely let me see him or his new brother, whome I hardly know. I have asked her to go to mediation with me, but so far, she has refused. She is angry because she says she was raised in a fundamental Christian home, and it has scarred her for life. (Well, we did wear skirts all the time.......) And no TV for a few years......and I homeschooled them..... Sigh. Guilty as charged, I guess. My heart just aches. Is there any recourse for me?
Leonard Henderson July 31, 2012 at 03:46 AM
"Scarred for life" by being "raised in a fundamental Christian home"? Well if it's the snake handlers, that's probably not so great. But no, there's no recourse. You gotta just love her and be prepared to help pick up the pieces when this sin-sick world stops being fun.
JS October 19, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Tonya, you make a valid point. Sometimes Grandparents misbehave just like everyone else. The SC law that is on the books now is meant to encourage negotiation rather than taking a "take em to court" attitude, and the new law being proposed, would ONLY apply in cases where termination of parental rights is already proposed by DSS. Frankly, I wish all grandparents had the same way of thinking that my parents did. They were totally hands off (rightly so), and only offered advice if they thought or children would benefit. If we decided to not take the advice, they always said it was fine. Pop once told me; "Advice is nothing more than a suggestion, and should be taken and treated as such. If we get too pushy, tell us to butt out!" I never had to do that. If the grandkids are not in danger or being abused, grandparents should understand the parental boundaries and respect them.
Leonard Henderson October 22, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Have you gotten your version of history on the record? Made your case? Provided evidence? The truth isn't necessarily in what people say.
JS October 22, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Tonya, Leonard is correct. You must "get your ducks in a row". Please email me here: john@grasc.org because some things should not be discussed in a public forum like this.
Aries Blond November 09, 2012 at 09:46 PM
How about when everyone in the family can see the grandkids except me, the grandmother. I am considering "alienation of affection" against my dad and stepmother for not stepping up to the plate and saying something. BTW: My step-mother is like my DIL so they get along fine. I need some help here. I live in SC, the parents live in NC ( my only child that I raised by myself is a police officer in NC). I can't afford attys in NC, that's why I rather go against my Dad and stepmother in SC. Any ideas or support groups?
Aries Blond November 11, 2012 at 04:43 AM
Thank you, John. Would Judge Blackwell (ret) have any ideas for a situation such as mine as well? There is no protective order against me in NC or SC nor am I on any Responsible Person's list in either State. This whole situation is very heart-breaking when you now have no family at all for no reason. I am devastated. Are there any remedies (i.e. a Protective Order against my Dad and step-mother as well as my son from contacting me ever again)? I was a single parent and raised my son alone.(He is my only child). My son will not come see me, but will see my Dad and step-mother who live in Spartanburg - 10 miles away. My son does call me to see if I'm alive, I guess and my dad calls and we have a tense relationship. Losing my little family is not something easily forgotten. Their contact with me just dredges up the reality of the situation. I'm afraid, my heart will be breaking forever. Thank you both for any suggestions.
Distressed G'Ma February 06, 2013 at 03:22 AM
I am desperate for help and any suggestions to be able to see my Granddaughter. My son and girlfriend live together, but aren't married. My Granddaughter lives with them. The parents have a long history of drug abuse, prescription pain pills and non-prescription, before their child was born. During the last couple months of the pregnancy, the Mother and my son went on Methadone, supposedly to wean off the drugs, as a result of me talking with them. My son is still on it and I don't know what the Mother is on, but I know one thing for sure, when a person has been taking 160 percocets, among other drugs, they don't just magically stop cold turkey! I know they keep me away because of this. I have paid utility bills for them to keep them from being without electricity or water, have taken food to them and more. I've killed them with kindness in hopes to be able to see my Granddaughter and know that she's being taken care of. Please, please tell me what, if anything, I can do. Distressed G'Ma
Aries Blond February 07, 2013 at 12:53 AM
Pray, get counseling to deal with this, and leave them alone. You could call DSS on them if you truly know about the percocet. DO NOT GIVE THEM money, though or it could backfire on you and they could tell DSS that you are part of their drug deal giving them money. There are no rights for grandparents until you want to find a high priced atty to try to investigate them (Private detective) -- there may be a rule in SC when the child turns 12, you can ask a court to intervene and ask the child who they want to live with. You must understand that the child or children in my case have been brainwashed so badly, they don't want to see me. I've waited over 5 years with prayer and counseling, but legally, it is very hard to prove. I am also heartbroken and trying to forget I ever had grandchildren. That is all I can share with you. My heart has been torn out forever.
Aries Blond February 07, 2013 at 01:00 AM
That is so very true, Judy. My grandkids and their mother are best friends. I NEVER did anything -- there is no court order, no repsonsible person's list, 3 DA's in 2 different states threw the case out because of no evidence. My grandkids have been so brainwashed, they don't want to ever see me. My heart is torn out after 5 years of not seeing them with no end or resolve in sight. Waiting until they are 18 is ridiculous. They certainly wouldn't want to ever see me then after all the brainwashing. My pastor cannot believe my family will not nor have ever stood up for me in all of this lunacy. I sure hope there is a God whose vengeance is his. I just walk with my head down in a fog. This is much worse than death.
Aries Blond February 07, 2013 at 01:09 AM
It's a mute point, I'm afraid. DSS has protective immunity which means they can do whatever they want. I am old, on a fixed income and have just the one son. The DIL is the deluded one. We will never win or get to see our grand kids. Just accept it and move on down the road , so to speak. I am heart broken and don't need the aggravation of getting "pissed off" when there is nothing we can do.
JS February 07, 2013 at 01:47 AM
Last year, the Grandparents Rights bill did not make it into law. However, it has been re introduced this year in the SC state House, and very soon in the Senate as well. The House bill number is H 3464 and I will post the Senate bill number as soon as I have it. There will be other legislation this year that you will also be very interested in.
Aries Blond February 07, 2013 at 02:16 PM
John, you had sent me a national grandparent's link once, specifically because mine live in Gaston County, NC. Can you re-send that link or do you have one specially for Gaston County, NC? If not, perhaps Judge Blackwell has a contact there for me? Thank you. It's always good to have a contact there or judge even (retired) to speak about these things. The children are always getting broken arms, falling down steps, etc., but DSS calls it "retaliation" and won't look into it.
Charles Wesley Sullivan February 24, 2013 at 09:27 PM
CWS. 4:08 on Sunday, Feb 24, 2013 the S.C. Children's code of Laws, Title 63 - 3 - 530 - article 33 is partially null and void in Lancaster County, S.C. according to a local ( Lancaster attorney ). The Family Court will only hear the first part of the law, -( to order visitation for the grandparent of a minor child where either or both parents of the minor child is or are deceased,) not the whole reading of the law as is printed in the code of laws (or are divorced,or are living seperate and apart in different habitats.) Our case is the parents are living seperate and apart in different habitats. This attorney refuses to even take such a case as ours as wanting to have child visitation with our two grandsons to court because our son has refused to pay any of his court ordered child support. His actions are beyond any of our control and are not the actions that we support. In fact, we have documented proof of our support of the grand kids' in excess of $2500.00 for year 2012. Also, have started such support beginning in 2013 until Feb.1, their mother informs us that she is no longer going to allow us to see them, that she has the right to exclude us from our rights.
JS February 24, 2013 at 09:59 PM
CWS - Please email me info@grasc.org
marjorie less March 18, 2013 at 04:33 PM
We have been trying to see our grandaughter. She is almost 1 year. Our son is in another state and running from the law. Weve tried to send letters and money but the moms parents are probably interferring . We have done nothing wrong and are heartbroken please help
Catherine M Rawlings April 11, 2013 at 11:48 PM
My son is not living with the mother of my grandaughter, and my son has joint custody. I bought 2 tickets for my son and his daughter to fly to NY for a visit for 6 days. Now she won't let my grandaughter visit. Do I have any rights for visitation of my 10 months grandaughter ? This will only get worse. They live in the Greenville area and I live in upstate NY. Catona
Ana Anderson June 10, 2013 at 05:13 PM
It is ashamed, well you have done the right thing. You gave her the basics, if she strays from that all you can do is pray. I have the same beliefs, my daughters have stayed on the right path and my sons have not. My second oldest son married a very evil woman has kept away from church and now his life is a mess, they have a beautiful 4 month old, that she wont let me see, because I dont agree with her lifestyle. Wicked woman. Pray for me as I will pray for you. :)
JS June 10, 2013 at 06:21 PM
I have amazing news! The Grandparents Rights bill, H-3464 has PASSED! Both the House and Senate gave it unanimous approval, and it is now awaiting the Governor's signature. It will become law the second she signs it! Family Court judges will no longer be able to say grandparents have no rights simply because they are not mentioned in the law, because now, they ARE specifically mentioned! Grandparents will now have standing in the Family Court when DSS is involved in a case. This link will take you to the actual bill that has been passed: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess120_2013-2014/bills/3464.htm
JS June 10, 2013 at 08:10 PM
Please send me an email to info@grasc.org
Shirley Cartwright June 18, 2013 at 04:00 PM
My sons ex wife just won a case on May 28th to have my sons parental rights cancelled, along with this my visitation rights as a grandparent has been cut off. the last time she let me speak to them was May 15th 2013 now she won't answer my emails, nothing. I live in the Bahamas and would travel to Charlston 2/3 times a yaer to see the children, now I cant even talk to them. My heart is broken. Can anyone offer advise
JS June 19, 2013 at 08:04 AM
UPDATE: H-3464 has been passed, and signed into law! Grandparents are now specifically talked about in the "placement" statutes, and so HAVE STANDING in the Family Court when DSS is involved. Shirley, CT has a law that states grandparents DO NOT lose visitation when children are adopted. We are investigating that law, and will be working on similar legislation in South Carolina.

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