TPR, Termination of Parental Rights

As they should, South Carolina’s Family Courts approach the issue of terminating a parent’s rights with great attention to detail and effort to keep the family unit intact. Family Courts address TPR differently depending on whether TPR is voluntary or involuntary.

Voluntary giving up of a parent’s rights for the purpose of adoption is referred to as relinquishment. Sections 63-9-10 addresses it through 360 of the South Carolina Code of Laws (2008).  Per Section 63-30(8) of the South Carolina Code of Laws (2008). Moreover,  Relinquishment means “the informed and voluntary release in writing of all parental rights with respect to a child by a parent to a child placing agency or to a person who facilitates the placement of a child for the purpose of adoption and to whom the parent has given the right to consent to the adoption of the child.”

The statutes address the detailed process of relinquishment, including the persons necessary to give consent or relinquishment for purposes of adoption, the information and circumstances required to complete the process, and the effects of relinquishment. An attorney not representing the adopting parties should advise a parent seeking to relinquish his/her parental rights for purposes of adoption of his/her rights.

What’s the Effect of Relinquishment?

When a parent relinquishes his/her parental rights for the purpose of adoption. The Family Court can only withdraw the relinquishment where the court finds it in the child’s best interests. And that someone did not voluntarily give the consent or relinquishment or obtain it under duress or through coercion.  Child support obligations end upon relinquishment. However, the system does not forgive arrearages, and it can still hold the parent responsible for the arrearages owed. The final decree of adoption is the only event that severs the right of inheritance. Once the final decree of adoption is entered. The consent or relinquishment is irrevocable and severs all rights between the parent and child.

Grounds for Termination

When the issue is involuntary TPR, the Family Court must find clear and convincing evidence that the termination of parental rights serves the best interests of the child and that there are proper grounds for terminating the parent-child relationship. Furthermore, the South Carolina legislature addresses the termination of parental rights in Sections 63-7-2510 through 2620 of the South Carolina Code of Laws (2008).

Grounds for termination include:

  • The child has suffered harm, and we cannot make the current home safe within the next twelve (12) months.;
  • The authorities have removed the child (a) from the parent and taken him/her into emergency protective custody. (b) has been out of the home for six (6) months following the adoption of a placement plan. And (c) the parent has not fixed the conditions for which the child was originally removed;
  • A child has lived outside of the home for a period of six (6) months. And during that period, the parent willfully failed to visit the child;
  • The child has lived outside of the home for a period of six (6) months, and either parent has failed to support the child;
  • The child has been in foster care under the responsibility of the state for fifteen (15) of the last twenty-two (22) months;
  • Parent has a diagnosable condition–such as alcoholism or drug abuse–that is unlikely to change within a reasonable time. Moreover, the condition makes the parent unlikely to provide minimally acceptable care for the child;
  • The presumptive legal father is not the biological father of the child. The welfare of the child can best be served by termination of the parental rights of the presumptive legal father;
  • The parent has willfully abandoned or surrendered physical possession of the child without making adequate arrangements for the child’s needs and care;
  • The child has been physically abused, and the parent pleaded guilty to at least a part of the abuse;
  • The child was conceived as a result of criminal sexual conduct;
  • A parent of the child pleads guilty. Or nolo contendere to or is convicted of the murder of the child’s other parent.

DSS Petition for TPR

A private party or the Department of Social Services (DSS) can seek to enter a petition for TPR.  Where DSS enters a petition for TPR, at the same time, it initiates the adoption process for the child if an adoptive family has not already been found or approved.  Also, the Family Court will appoint a Guardian ad litem to facilitate further protection of the child’s best interests.

What’s the effect of TPR?  An order terminating the relationship between parent and child forever severs the parent and child’s relationship.  The parent and child have no legal rights, powers, privileges, immunities, duties, or obligations with respect to each other. Except the right of the child to inherit from the parent. The child’s right to inheritance is terminated only by a final decree of adoption. Also, the TPR of one parent does not affect the relationship between the child. And the other parent whose rights have not been terminated.

As always, you can contact us for an initial consultation.

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