There are many grounds for termination of parental rights in South Carolina. In private termination of parental rights actions, I most commonly have been confronted with a parent’s failure to support or visit his or her child. In South Carolina, a parent’s parental rights can be terminated if a parent willfully fails to support their child for a period of six months or more and/or if a parent willfully fails to visit their child for a period of six months or more, and it is in the child’s best interests to terminate parental rights.
Parties may also seek a termination of parental rights based upon a parent having a diagnosable condition that is unlikely to change within a reasonable amount of time, including, but not limited to, addiction to alcohol or illegal drugs, prescription medication abuse, mental deficiency, mental illness, or extreme physical incapacity, and the condition makes the parent unlikely to provide minimally acceptable care of the child. S.C. Code Annotated § 23-7-2570.
Where a parent is unable to visit because the other parent is preventing him from doing so, willful failure to visit will not be found. Likewise, where a parent is unable to provide support, and is not simply voluntarily unemployed or under-employed, willful failure to support will not be found.
And, even where a party meets the statutory requirements for a termination of parental rights, it must still be in the child’s best interests for the Court to do so.