Getting divorced often means that one or both of the parents will see less of their child or children due to child custody and visitation arrangements. But what about grandparents' visitation rights to see their grandchildren after a divorce ? What can grandparents do if the parent awarded primary custody of the children is hostile or purposely tries to deny their ex-parents-in-law the ability to see their grandkids?
Unfortunately for grandparents seeking visitation rights with their grandchildren after a divorce, it can be tough to get the family court to award visitation in South Carolina. This is because South Carolina courts give deference to the wishes of the children's parents based on rights provided by the United States Constitution under the Due Process Clause. Under this clause of the Constitution, parents have the right to raise their children how they see fit. If a parent with primary physical child custody does not want the children to visit with the grandparents, it can be hard to convince the family court otherwise.
Court Orders for Grandparents' Visitation Rights
But that is not to say that grandparents in South Carolina are without recourse. Under South Carolina law, grandparents can seek a court order from the family court that will require the parent with primary custody to permit visitation between the grandparents and the grandchildren.
The court may grant a court order for visitation between a grandparent and a minor grandchild if certain requirements can be shown, including:
- One or both of the grandchild's parents are divorced, separated, or dead;
- The grandchild's parents or guardians have been preventing or depriving the grandparent of visitation opportunities for more than 90 days
- Visitation rights would not interfere with the parent-child relationship
- The family court determines that either:
- Compelling circumstances exist to overcome the presumption that the parent's or guardian's decision to keep the child from visiting with the grandparents is in the best interest of the child
- The parents or guardians are unfit to care for the child
When the grandparents can demonstrate the elements above, it is likely that the court will order the grandparents' visitation rights.
Bolstering Supporting Evidence
There are a number of things that grandparents can do to help make their case stronger to the family court. Of particular importance is demonstrating to the court that the grandparents and the grandchildren share a significant relationship and that the children benefit from the existence of that relationship. Offering to the court evidence (documents such as receipts, itineraries, etc.) of time spent with the grandchildren, such as vacations, trips or days out with the grandchildren, can show that the grandparents regularly engage with the grandchildren. Similarly, proof of regular communication (emails, proof of telephone calls, text messages, etc.) can show that a bond exists between the grandchildren and the grandparents.
Contacting a Charleston Family Law Attorney
When you need help procuring visitation rights with your grandchildren, please contact the family law attorneys at Sarji Law Firm, LLC. Our family law attorneys can assist you with your fight. Call us today at 843-323-4341.