When Are Parental Rights Terminated?

Being a parent can be an immensely rewarding and satisfying experience. A child is often the apple of a parent’s eye and parents or caregivers revel in the opportunity to watch their child grow, learn and play. Children can make you laugh and sometimes make you cry with joy. But having or adopting a child comes with certain rights and obligations regarding that child, for which the parents of that child are responsible.

Creation of Parental Rights of a Child

Parental rights are automatically created in a child’s biological parents, as these individuals created the child in question. But parental rights can also be created in legal, adoptive and foster parents as well, through the legal establishment of those parent-child relationships. There can even be circumstances where parental rights of a child are granted by the family Court to a legal guardian or grandparent when the child’s parents are not fit to care for the child, or if there are extenuating circumstance that make granting parental rights in someone other than the parents an action that is in the best interests of the child.

Termination of Parental Rights

What can be created, can also be destroyed. Parental rights are not indelible and can be terminated by the court, or a parent can voluntarily relinquish his or her parental rights to their child. Termination of parental rights is a serious matter and should not be taken lightly. When a parent is deemed unfit to care for a child in South Carolina, the family Court will terminate the parent’s parental rights, and will grant custody of the child to someone else. Parental rights termination is forever and cannot be undone.

South Carolina Law Provides Specific Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights

The law in South Carolina highlights nearly a dozen scenarios in which a parent will lose their parental rights to a child. These grounds for parental rights termination include:

Willful failure by the parent to visit the child for a period exceeding half a year;

Willful failure by the parent to provide support for the child for a period exceeding half a year;

Abandonment of the child;

If the child has been in foster care for 15 out of the previous 22 months;

If the child was removed from the home and had to be placed in a different living situation, and the parent has not taken steps to resolve the conditions which required the child to be removed from the home in the first place, within a period of half a year from the removal;

If the parent repeatedly or severely abused or neglected the child and the home cannot possibly be made safe for the child to return to within a period of 12 months;

If the parent is rendered unfit to care for the child because of a mental condition, alcohol addiction or drug dependency that is unlikely to change in a reasonable period of time;

If a child has died or been admitted to the hospital as a result of physical abuse committed by the parent, and the parent has been convicted, pled guilty or nolo contendere to an offense against a person, aggravated domestic violence or aggravated assault and battery;

If the parent has pled guilty or nolo contendere to or has been convicted of murdering the child’s other parent;

If it is in the best interest of the child’s welfare to terminate the legal father’s parental rights (this applies to the legal father, not biological father); or

In situations where a child is conceived as the result of a sex crime, the parental rights of the father will be terminated unless there is a evidence that the sexual conduct was consensual and between actors who were between the ages of 14 and 18 years old at the time of the conception.

Contacting a Charleston Family Law Attorney

If you are concerned that your parental rights are in jeopardy, or are interested in seeking custody of a child because you believe the child’s parents are unfit to provide the child with adequate care, please contact the family law attorneys at Sarji Law Firm, LLC. Our child custody attorneys can assist you with your fight to obtain custody. Call us today at 843-323-4341.