South Carolina Grandparents Visitation Bill to Become Law
By John Schafer – Director, Grandparent’s Rights Association of the United States of America
On January 14, 2014, H-4348 was introduced in the South Carolina House of Representatives. This bill is intended to amend an existing South Carolina statute that allows grandparents to petition the Family Court for visitation with grandchildren when they have been unjustly alienated. The original law has several conditions that must be met before a judge can award that visitation. At the same time, the statute also preserves the primary authority of good parents to raise their children as they see fit. The problem with the 2010 law is the fact that it actually placed almost impossible, and in one case contradictory conditions on the grandparents to prove.
We all know about the relationship grandparents normally have in a family. One of those relationships would be the one directly with the grandchildren. It’s a special bond, and it is totally different than the parental bond. The existing statute requires a grandparent to prove they have had a “parent like relationship” with the grandchild, but in another part, requires proof that visits would not interfere with the “Parent-child relationship”. Proving both is contradictory, and grandparents normally have no desire to interfere with the Parent-Child relationship. So, H-4348 removes the requirement to prove that “parent like relationship” with the child. This makes perfect sense, because grandparents are NOT supposed to have that kind of relationship. They are not the parents, they are the GRANDparents.
The 2014 Grandparent Visitation Bill (soon to be law) had to have the support of the citizens in South Carolina in order to show the General Assembly it is wanted and needed. H4348 was written and introduced by House Representative Lucas, and co sponsored by several others. The Grandparents Rights Association of the United States of America, and South Carolina, began contacting state Representatives to let them know it had our support. GRAUSA representatives attended and testified in support of the bill at all committee hearings, and our fantastic members made themselves known to all members of the General Assembly. House and Senate members have confirmed GRAUSA was the only organized group to support, or testify on behalf of H4348, and they also confirm there was no real opposition from the citizens of South Carolina. Therefore, the 2014 Grandparent Visitation Bill made it through the legislative system with unanimous approval at all stages of the process. Now that it has that unanimous approval of the full General Assembly, it will become law as soon as it is signed by Governor Haley, and that should happen on or before June 16th.
This victory for Grandparents comes just one year after H3464, the 2013 Grandparents Rights bill, was also unanimously passed and signed into law, giving Grandparents standing in the Family Court when there is a chance of termination of Parental rights. It allows Grandparents to petition the court for custody of children who are at risk of being taken into the foster system. GRAUSA has been the driving force behind both H3464 and H4348 from the beginning, and GRAUSA will be promoting more legislation next session in South Carolina, AND the rest of the USA. We take the very difficult task of changing laws in stride, the impossible just takes a little longer.
For more information, and to join GRAUSA in the effort to preserve the total family, please visit the website at www.grausa.org You will also find links to the Facebook groups for all our state chapters.