Parents have rights and responsibilities regarding their children in South Carolina. They must provide financial or child support, but they also have the right to seek visitation or custody. 

However, if a parent abandons their child, they have failed to meet their responsibilities as a parent. The other parent may have the option to seek a termination of parental rights in these cases. There are also several other matters that may result in termination of parental rights, depending on the circumstances.

Abandonment Defined

Abandonment is defined in Section 63-7-20(1) as willfully deserting a child or willfully surrounding physical possession of a child without making adequate arrangements for child’s needs or continuing care of the child. 

Child abandonment is one of the grounds that can support a termination of parental rights in South Carolina. There are other grounds, such as a failure to visit the child for a period of at least six months, a failure to provide financial support for a period of at least six months, or cases of child abuse. There may also be issues if the child’s welfare is abused or otherwise utilized with poor intent. Any person responsible for these negative behaviors will be at risk of reduced legal and physical custody of the child.

If one parent abandons the child and does not visit the child or contribute financially to the child’s upbringing for a period of at least six months, you may have grounds to seek a termination of parental rights. However, the court must also determine that the termination of parental rights is in the best interests of the child.

The Child’s Best Interests

Even if the grounds for termination are clear, a court may decide not to grant a termination of parental rights. A termination of parental rights is a permanent decision that could impact the child for the rest of their life.

For example, the abandoning parent may later return and become financially able to support the child. If the court grants the termination of parental rights, they may be depriving the child of this support.

The court will generally avoid giving custody rights if there is a risk of child abuse, physical or mental injury, or other issues requiring medical and surgical treatment. If there is suspected child abuse, the court will also take this into account and require an implementation of child protective services until a complete evaluation of the circumstances has been determined.

A court may be more likely to grant a termination of parental rights if there is a simultaneous adoption by another party. This is commonly done in stepparent adoptions, where one biological parent must terminate their parental rights before the stepparent can adopt the child.

In these cases, the court gives legal parental rights to a person who has already shown commitment to the child. This factor can be weighed against determining the biological parent’s rights when determining the best interests of the child.

How Can a Child Custody Lawyer Help?

If you are concerned about child abandonment from your co-parent and want to keep your child safe, you can take legal action. We recommend you work with a lawyer with experience in child custody cases and child abandonment litigation. An attorney from King Law can support you with your legal matters in many ways, including but not limited to the following:

  • Conduct an independent investigation
  • Work with medical professionals
  • Negotiate with every party
  • Prepare your case for court
  • Collect evidence to prove liability
  • Consult with experts
  • Assure that all documents are filed correctly and in a timely manner
  • Communicate with the other parties on your behalf
  • Organize and present the evidence
  • Access research methods and tools only available to legal professionals
  • An understanding of the legal system and how to make it work for you

Please refrain from representing yourself during your child abandonment legal matters, as working with a lawyer is often far more effective. By choosing to utilize legal support and avoiding self-representation, you are much more likely to receive favorable results and maintain the safety of your child.

We encourage you to contact King Law to begin working on your claim. We can support you during this difficult time, ensuring you face as little time in litigation as possible. With access to our processes, we can also reduce the stress you might experience. Feel free to contact us at your convenience.

Contact a Lawyer From King Law to Help With Your Child Custody-Related Legal Matters

Talk to a South Carolina family law attorney before you petition the court for a termination of parental rights or for help proceeding with a stepparent adoption. We can help you gain physical or legal custody and prioritize the well-being of your child. Your child’s welfare must be prioritized during every step of the legal process, and our firm is prepared to help.

The lawyers at King Law serve individuals in need throughout South Carolina, and we can help you through the difficult process of separation, divorce, and child custody. We invite you to come in and talk with one of our family law attorneys during an in-person consultation. Give us a call at (888) 748-5464 or (888) 748-KING. Alternatively, complete our contact form, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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