Grandparents play a special role in the lives of their grandchildren. Unfortunately, divorce, substance abuse, family discord, and other life circumstances sometimes stand in the way of grandparents continuing to build and strengthen their relationships with the grandchildren they love.
More and more, grandparents have been going to court to establish legal rights to spend time with their grandchildren. A new law makes it easier for grandparents to obtain visitation with their grandchildren. The new law authorizes the family court to order visitation when either or both parents of the minor child is or are deceased, are divorced, or are living separately and apart in different habitats, if the court finds that: (1) the child’s parents or guardians are unreasonably depriving the grandparent of the opportunity to visit with the child, including denying visitation of the minor child to the grandparent for a period exceeding ninety (90) days; and (2) awarding grandparent visitation would not interfere with the parent-child relationship; and: (a) the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the child’s parents or guardians are unfit; or (b) the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that there are compelling circumstances to overcome the presumption that the parental decision is in the child’s best interest. Grandparents will still not be able to seek visitation when the child's parents are living together.
You need a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer who knows the law and will work hard to ensure that the best interests of your grandchild are protected. At Ballinger Law Firm, we can represent grandparents pursuing child custody or visitation under the special circumstances set forth in this new statute.
Sometimes parental objection is an obstacle to grandparents asserting their rights. In South Carolina, grandparents’ rights are generally derivative of their child’s rights. Under typical circumstances, this means that a grandparent may visit with a grandchild only when the grandparent’s child (the parent) has visitation. The presumption in favor of awarding custody to the biological parents can be overcome by showing they are unfit for custody.
Grandparents may petition the court for custody or visitation of their grandchildren under limited circumstances. For example, if you have been the primary caregiver for and financial supporter of your grandchild for the necessary period of time, you might qualify as a “de facto custodian”
under South Carolina law. Parties who are designated as de facto custodians by the court have standing to petition the court for custody and/or visitation. If you are a “psychological parent,” you might also be granted visitation — even over the objection of a fit biological parent — although this requires extremely compelling circumstances.
The laws regarding grandparents’ rights are complex. If you are concerned about the well-being of your grandchild, we can guide you through this process and help you make the best possible decisions for your grandchild.