8 Common Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights in South Carolina

picture of child--babyDSS wants to terminate my parental rights.  How can they do this?  I’m her mother.  My child needs me.

Termination of parental rights has often been referred to as the Family Court’s equivalent to the death penalty. Here in South Carolina, once a parent’s rights have been terminated, the parent ceases to exist in the life of the childForever.  The child is then most often placed for adoption without any further consideration for the natural parents.

The court can terminate parental rights by presenting clear and convincing evidence at trial that termination is in the child’s best interests AND at least one of eleven statutory grounds for termination.  The most common grounds I have encountered in South Carolina are paraphrased and simplified as follows:

(1)        The child or another child residing in the parent’s home has been harmed, and because of the severity or repetition of the abuse or neglect, it is not reasonably likely that the home can be made safe within twelve months.

(2)        The child has been removed from the parent and has been out of the home for a period of six months following the adoption of a placement plan, and the parent has not remedied the conditions which caused the removal.

(3)        The child has lived outside the home of either parent for a period of six months, and during that time the parent has willfully failed to visit the child.

(4)        The child has lived outside the home of either parent for a period of six months, and during that time the parent has willfully failed to support the child.

(5)        The parent has a diagnosable condition unlikely to change within a reasonable time such as alcohol or drug addiction, mental deficiency, mental illness, or extreme physical incapacity, and the condition makes the parent unable or unlikely to provide minimally acceptable care of the child.

(7)        The child has been abandoned.

(8)        The child has been in foster care under the responsibility of the State for fifteen of the most recent twenty-two months.

Even if the court has already found that you have abused or neglected your child, a good attorney familiar with the law can help you avoid losing your child to adoption.  If you find yourself in this position, you need an attorney who can guide you through your dealings with DSS system.

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Written by

Graves H. Wilson, Jr. worked as a staff attorney for the South Carolina Department of Social Services in Dorchester County, South Carolina from 2005 to 2011. He now represents clients involved in DSS cases--parents, grandparents, or other interested parties. He practices state-wide and accepts cases in all South Carolina counties.

7 comments

  1. 8 Common Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights in South Carolina

    Hi Mr. Wilson,

    My name is Allison C. Williams, and I am a family law attorney in New Jersey, focusing my practice in Child Welfare law. Your site is quite impressive, though I must acknowledge the disturbing sense of helplessness one must experience reviewing the policies and practices of South Carolina DSS.

    I would greatly appreciate an opportunity to speak with you about the subject in greater detail. Please contact me at your convenience.

    Kudos to you for this exemplary work!

    Warm regards,
    Allison C. Williams

    • Graves H. Wilson, Jr.

      8 Common Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights in South Carolina

      Thanks for your reply. I’m out until January 7, but will call you. I appreciate you taking time to stop by our blog.

  2. Starlite Barnett

    8 Common Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights in South Carolina

    I have a 6 and half year old daughter. Her biological father has seen
    only seen her a total of 5 times since we split up in March 2011.
    He has seen her a fiancee is her dad , he’s not her legal father. Nobody knows where her biological father is.0 times in the past year. Never paid child
    support. My fiance wants to adopt her or at the very least get guardianship of her incase something happens to me so she won’t get put in to the “system”
    because I don’t have any family and I’m scared thats exactly what will happen. I just dont want her to be seperated from her baby sister .

  3. Amanda M.

    8 Common Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights in South Carolina

    I found your article very informative. I realize that every case is different, but I was wondering if the above grounds applied only to both parents losing their rights or if one parent can request the termination of another parents’ rights citing the above? I am relatively new to South Carolina and unfamiliar with practices here. Thank you for any information you can give me.

    • Graves H. Wilson, Jr.

      8 Common Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights in South Carolina

      A petition to terminate the parental rights (TPR) of an individual may be filed by any interested person, including a parent who has legal grounds to terminate the other. However, you must not only prove the grounds for the TPR, but must also prove that TPR is in the best interests of the child. Therefore, it helps if there is another appropriate person, such as a stepparent, available to step onto the void and assume the role of the missing parent. I cannot asses your case without knowing the particular facts, but you can call my office at (843) 695-0830 and I will be happy to discuss it with you.

  4. misu Cleveland

    8 Common Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights in South Carolina

    How do you find and fill out the information about a TRIP in the state of SC?

    • Graves H. Wilson, Jr.

      8 Common Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights in South Carolina

      Could you elaborate on your question?

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