Grandparent Visitation in South Carolina: When It’s Allowed And Denied

South Carolina’s grandparent visitation statute is perhaps one of the newest and most favorable grandparent parenting time laws in the country.  While the law may seem wieldy to implement at first glance, found at S.C. Code § 63-3-530 (A)(30), it is indeed a rather simple concept to understand.  To simplify the South Carolina’s grandparent visitation law, whenever a parent interferes with the grandparent visiting with his or her grandchild, the courts may enter an order requiring visitation to occur.  There are some very important provisos that need to be built into the parenting time order for grandparent parenting time, but the terms are such that an order can be both broad and vague to allow the parties to work out the day-to-day management of the grandchild visitation or it can be very strict and delineated to ensure strict compliance.

U.s. Federal Constitution Speaks To The Issue Of Grandparent Visitation

The trajectory of South Carolina law on grandparent visitation is fast changing.  This indeed recognizes the larger national trend in grandparent visitation laws across the nation.  Perhaps it’s a function of the baby boomers becoming grandparents and exercising their rights to such a degree that a critical mass has been reached.  One milestone in this journey is the case of Troxel v. Granville found at 530 U.S. 57Troxel is important because it outlines the broad constitutional metes and bounds for when a grandparent visitation statute is constitutionally valid.  To begin, the Supreme Court recognized that the long established right of a parent to make decisions regarding the care, custody and control as a “fundamental right” protected by the Constitution.  Next, a court must start from the basic premise that a parent acts in the best interest of his or her child and must give “special weight” to the parents’ determination of the child’s best interest.  The legal implications are that in order for a court to interfere with such a constitutionally weighty right, the decision must be based on “greater than the preponderance of the evidence standard applicable to other categories of civil cases.”

What Needs To Be Proven To Have Standing Under The Grandparent Visitation Law

When someone does not have a legally recognizable right under a specific law, it is said that they do not have standing under the law.  In order to have standing under the grandparent visitation statute – to benefit from the law, that is – one or both parent must be deceased, or the parents must be divorced and/or living in separate residences The grandparent has the burden of proof to show that the parent is “unreasonably depriving the grandparent of the of the opportunity to visit with the child … for a period exceeding ninety days” and that any parenting time does “not interfere with the parent-child relationship.”  Furthermore, the court must find by clear and convincing evidence that the parent is either “unfit” or that there are “compelling circumstances to overcome the presumption that the parental decision is in the child’s best interest.”  The court can also award attorneys fees and costs to the prevailing party.

This last provision cannot be underestimated in terms of it’s ability to force an unreasonably entrenched litigant on the other side.   Perhaps you have such a situation that requires you to negotiate with a parent or grandparent for grandparent visitation.  Robert Clark is a grandparent’s rights attorney with extensive experience dealing with the many nuances that litigating such a case entails.  If you or someone you know is dealing with such a situation or perhaps wants to seek grandparent visitation, or would like to speak to a lawyer about other aspects of family law, contact us to setup an appointment.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit