Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights - South Carolina

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Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 63-7-1710; 63-7-2570

When a child is in the custody of the Department of Social Services, the department shall file a petition to terminate parental rights if any of the following apply:

  • A child has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months.
  • A court has determined the following:
    • The child is an abandoned infant.
    • The parent has committed murder or voluntary manslaughter of another child of the parent.
    • The parent has aided, abetted, conspired, or solicited to commit murder or manslaughter of another child of the parent.
    • The parent has committed a felony assault that has resulted in serious bodily injury to the child or to another child of the parent.
    • The parent has been in willful contempt on two occasions over a 12-month period for failure to comply with the terms of the treatment plan or placement plan.

The family court may order the termination of parental rights upon a finding of one or more of the following grounds and a finding that termination is in the best interests of the child:

  • The child or another child while 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 12 months.
  • The child has been removed from the parent, has been out of the home for 6 months following the adoption of a placement plan, and the parent has not remedied the conditions that caused the removal.
  • The child has lived outside the home of either parent for 6 months and during that time the parent has willfully failed to visit the child. The court may attach little or no weight to incidental visitations, but it must be shown that the parent was not prevented from visiting by the party having custody or by court order.
  • The child has lived outside the home of either parent for 6 months and during that time the parent has willfully failed to support the child. Failure to support means that the parent has failed to make a material contribution to the child's care.
  • The presumptive legal father is not the biological father of the child, and the welfare of the child can best be served by termination of the parental rights of the presumptive legal father.
  • The parent has a diagnosable condition unlikely to change within a reasonable time including, but not limited to, 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. It is presumed that the parent's condition is unlikely to change within a reasonable time upon proof that the parent has been required to participate in a treatment program for alcohol or drug addiction and has failed two or more times to complete the program successfully.
  • The child has been abandoned.
  • The child has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months.
  • The physical abuse of a child resulted in the death or admission to the hospital of that child, and the abuse is the act for which the parent has been convicted of committing, aiding, abetting, conspiring to commit, or soliciting to commit an offense against the person; criminal domestic violence; or assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.
  • A parent of the child is convicted of the murder of the child's other parent.
  • The child was conceived as a result of the criminal sexual conduct of a biological parent unless the sentencing court makes specific findings that the conviction resulted from consensual sexual conduct where neither the victim nor the actor was younger than age 14 nor older than age 18 at the time of the offense.
  • The parent has been convicted of murder, voluntary manslaughter, or homicide by child abuse of another child of the parent.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 63-7-1710; 63-7-2570(6)

This section does not apply to the following:

  • A child for whom the family court has found that initiation of termination of parental rights is not in the best interests of the child, after applying the criteria of § 63-7-1700(C)-(G) and entering the findings required to select a permanency plan for the child. For this exemption to apply, the court must find that there are compelling reasons for selection of a permanency plan other than termination of parental rights.
  • If the family court finds that the department has not afforded services to the parents provided for in the treatment plan in a manner that was consistent with the time periods in the plan or that court hearings have been delayed in such a way as to interfere with the initiation, delivery, or completion of services, but only if the following apply:
    • The parent did not delay the court proceedings without cause or delay or refuse the services.
    • Successful completion of the services in question may allow the child to be returned within the extension period.
    • The case is not one for which the court has determined that reasonable efforts to preserve or reunify the family are not necessary.

The department must not terminate the rights of a parent or legal guardian with a disability solely on the basis of the disability.

Circumstances Allowing Reinstatement of Parental Rights

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.