Anyone has standing to seek custody of a neglected or delinquent child

Posted Saturday, February 12th, 2022 by Gregory Forman
Filed under Child Custody, Of Interest to Family Court Litigants, Of Interest to Family Law Attorneys, South Carolina Specific

I thought it was well known that when a child’s caretakers are unfit literarily anyone has standing to seek custody. Yet when two lawyer friends of mine were litigating this week over whether a grandparent had standing to seek custody of children in the custody of an allegedly unfit aunt, I realized I had never done the research on this issue and couldn’t easily locate the answer.

But the answer is that when a child is allegedly neglected or delinquent anyone has standing to seek custody. S.C. Code § 63-3-550 allows:

[A]ny person having knowledge or information of a nature which convinces such person that a child is neglected or delinquent or that a child, by reason of its condition, environment or its own acts, is, in accordance with the provisions of this article, subject to the jurisdiction of the court or any person who has suffered injury through the delinquency of any such child or is concerned in its guardianship or adoption or an officer having an arrested child in charge may institute a proceeding respecting such child.

The neighbor who sees a father beating his child: standing to seek custody. The grandparent who knows the parents are smoking meth: standing. The teacher whose student is habitually absent: standing. The police officer who finds an eight year old roaming the streets at night: standing.

In Jobst v. Jobst, 424 S.C. 64, 77, 817 S.E.2d 515, 522 (Ct. App. 2018), the Court of Appeals, citing S.C. Code § 63-3-550, affirmed that grandparents had standing to seek custody from an unfit mother.

Merely alleging parental unfitness is sufficient to confer standing to seek custody. Proving unfitness is a basis to obtain it. And anyone has standing to do this.

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