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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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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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