Divorce lawyer

Adoptions turn on best interests of the child, not the parent.

On January 5, 2022 the South Carolina Supreme Court issued a ruling that discussed the of the “best interest of a child” standard in Adoption and TPR cases.

Dad was an incarcerated inmate and by his own admission only had 4 supervised visits with his biological child and had not requested any more.  Child’s paternal grandfather had filed a Complaint to adopt the minor child.  The trial court found that while paternal grandfather had met all of the statutory requirements for a termination of parental rights and an adoption, it found that the child may someday benefit from Father being involved in her life, regardless of the fact he had shown very little interest and was in prison at the time of the family court trial, and therefore the best interests requirement was not met.  

The Trial Court was also oddly concerned with how the child’s birth certificate would appear if an adoption was granted.  The Court seemed transfixed with the fact that the child’s mother and paternal grandfather would be listed as the parents, in spite of testimony of the Guardian who had no similar concern.

In addition, the Trial Court felt that as paternal grandfather already had legal custody, an adoption was unnecessary as any safety issues had been addressed. 

The Supreme Court set forth a discussion of what is required to prove the “best interest of a child” in an adoption case and explored the benefits of adoptiona as opposed to simple custody. It found, not surprisingly, that the child’s best interests were dispositive in adoption cases once the statutory factors have been met.  The Supreme Court stated that that the lower courts were applying a standard more akin to a parental best interest standard.

This case is a short, easy read and gives a pretty good discussion as to what the court is looking for when analyzing the “best interests” of a child and the benefits to a child of an adoption.

Guy Vitetta

Charleston South Carolina

Related Posts