20 Aug 2014
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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?

Grandparents and Family Court: What are Your Rights?

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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