Best Interest of the Child in South Carolina

The prevailing standard in SC family courts is the best interest of the child. What this means is that a court will usually make the decision that is in the child’s best interest. Thus, it is imperative that lawyers argue towards this standard. When the termination of parental rights (TPR) is at issue, this standard is the crux of the case. SC DSS v. Cameron N.F.L., Billy J.S., and “John Doe” is a TPR case that focuses on this standard.

What Happened in the Case

DSS filed an intervention action against Mother because of the condition of her home and alleged drug abuse. DSS then removed the child from Mother. The family court then held a TPR hearing. Mother renovated her home and kept it clean. DSS found it suitable for an infant Mother recently gave birth to. DSS also found no evidence of drug abuse. While in foster care, the child lived in at least five homes and suffered developmental regression. The child’s therapist stated that the child had a strong bond with his mother. The child’s first guardian ad litem found that the child was not yet ready for adoption. However, the second GAL found that TPR was in the best interest of the child, despite never seeing the child and Mother interact. The family court ordered TPR. It found it to be in the child’s best interest.

On appeal, the court of appeals reversed the family court. It found that TPR was not in the child’s best interest. The court found that a valuable bond existed between the child and Mother. Further, the court found that the child was not a viable candidate for adoption. Also, the court found it significant that DSS had not identified a pre-adoptive home for the child. Thus, those three factors indicated that TPR was not in the child’s best interest.

TPR and the Child’s Best Interest

If facing a TPR hearing, make sure you have evidence of the child’s interest. A lawyer will know what evidence to gather and how best to present it! So contact us today.