Grandparent and Third-Party Child Visitation Rights

Grandparent and Third-Party Child Visitation Rights

There are four circumstances in which the South Carolina family court can award visitation to third parties: grandparent visitation, sibling visitation, de facto custodians, and psychological parents. For each case, some exceptions apply, and consulting a visitation attorney to know about child visitation rights is very helpful.

Grandparent Child Visitation Rights

Under limited circumstances, the family court can award grandparents visitation.  The family court cannot award such visitation when the child’s parents are living together. A grandparent must wait until he or she has been denied visitation for ninety days before seeking court intervention. A <strong>child visitation lawyer</strong> can help the grandparent demonstrate that the parent is unfit or that there are compelling circumstances to award such visitation. The grandparent must also show that visitation will not interfere with the parent-child relationship. Because visitation rights are complex, help from a child visitation lawyer is often needed.

Sibling Visitation Rights

South Carolina code authorizes the family court to award sibling visitation. However, sibling visitation rights are hard to understand because no reported case law discusses when visitation should be ordered. This statute can be unitized when an adult sibling wishes to maintain a relationship with a younger sibling over the parents’ objection or when a half sibling wishes to have or maintain a relationship with a sibling who is being raised by a parent to whom they are not related. Consulting a visitation lawyer specializing in sibling visitation rights can insure you take the right next steps.

De Facto Custodian Child Visitation Rights

A relatively new de facto custodian statute offers the surest way for a third party to obtain visitation. One becomes a de facto custodian by acting as the primary caretaker for a child, with the parent’s consent, for a period in excess of six months when the child is under three years of age or for one year when the child is three or older. One cannot become a de facto custodian by caring for a child in DSS custody. One cannot become a de facto custodian by withholding the child against the parent’s wishes. If non-parents do not get custody, then they can still apply for child visitation rights.

One typically becomes a de facto custodian when the child’s parent or parents allow one to become the caretaker for the child for a period of months or years. If one proves one is a de facto custodian, then the family court can award visitation, or even custody, if the parents are unfit or other compelling circumstances exist. To get more information on the rules around obtaining child visitation rights, you should consult a visitation attorney

Psychological Parent Visitation Rights

South Carolina law recognizes the doctrine of psychological parent but has so little case law on the topic that it is impossible to determine the boundaries of the doctrine. If you are a psychological parent, then a visitation lawyer can help you understand your child visitation rights. South Carolina’s lone reported psychological parent case involved a mother who allowed a man to act as her child’s father for a period of years, while the child’s biological father was distant and inconsistently present. The appellate court found the mother’s actions, coupled with the biological father’s distant relationship, gave this psychological parent the right to visitation with the child.

Unanswered Questions in Psychological Parent Case Law

Whether one can be a psychological parent when the child already has an involved parent of the same gender or whether one can be a psychological parent when the child already has two involved biological parents are questions that the South Carolina appellate courts have not addressed. The boundaries of the psychological parent doctrine remain unclear. If you happen to find yourself in this situation, then consulting a visitation lawyer will help you make sure that you understand how child visitation rights work, and maximize your chances of success.

Do I Need a Child Visitation Lawyer?

For good reason, there are limited circumstances in which a family court can award visitation to a non-parent. South Carolina does not want to interfere unduly in a parent-child relationship.  However, there are limited circumstances in which the family court can award third parties visitation. An experienced and knowledgeable visitation attorney can be vital to bringing third-party visitation claims or defending the child visitation rights of biological parents against undue interference from such third parties. If you would like to retain Gregory Forman as your child visitation lawyer, contact him here.

 
 

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