19 Oct Sibling Visitation Rights in South Carolina
Most people going through child custody cases are familiar with the term visitation and what it means for a parent or child in the situation. In most cases for a parent, it allows them to have time to visit with their child in order to promote a parent-child relationship. More recently, many jurisdictions have also included or considered creating grandparents’ visitation rights if it is in the best interests of the child. Far fewer people are familiar, however, with a much less known right that children, parents of the children and brothers and sisters hold. That right is known as sibling visitation rights.
Sibling Visitation Rights: Rare For Good Reason
The right for siblings to visit with each other is a rare occurrence, and for good reason. Courts and family judges are very hesitant to split up children. In most cases, splitting up siblings can have a negative impact on children’s development and therefore not be in the best interest of the child. A South Carolina family court will typically consider splitting up siblings only when compelling circumstances exist, such as a high level of conflict or hostility between the children or the inability of one parent to care for all of the children.
South Carolina legislatures recognized the importance of sibling bonds when growing up. As such, the right for a judge to appoint sibling visitation time is codified under South Carolina Code Section 63-3-530(A)(44).
Sibling Visitation Rights Must Be In the Best Interests of the Child
This is a phrase that is always at the forefront when determining child custody arrangements and sibling visitation rights. As we have discussed numerous times in previous blogs, the judge presiding over a child custody case will only act in the best interests of the child. This includes when it comes to ordering sibling visitation rights.
There are a number of cases, some of which we have touched on above, where the court may consider sibling visitation to not be in the best interests of the child. If one sibling is a physical threat to the other, obviously the children should be kept apart. There may be other instances where an adult sibling may lead a negative lifestyle like being a chronic drug abuser where the court may consider that a strong enough factor to deny sibling visitation rights.
Unfortunately for the citizens of South Carolina, there are a lot of unknowns when it comes to sibling visitation rights. The law itself codifying sibling visitation rights has only been on the books for less than two decades, and cases clarifying when sibling visitation rights are appropriate are few and far between. It is therefore unclear how strong of a claim an adult sibling would have to assert to see his or her younger sibling after having a fallout with the parent or what rights a child would have to assert to see a stepbrother or stepsister after a divorce.
Get Help From a South Carolina Family Law Attorney
It is precisely because of this uncertainty that those with questions regarding their right to visit with a sibling or a parent who wishes their child to have a relationship with their sibling should sit down and consult with qualified legal professionals who can help them navigate this murky area of law. The South Carolina family law attorneys at Klok Law Firm LLC in Mt. Pleasant, SC can offer years of experience to assist in your unique legal situation. Our family law attorneys handle all matters involving family law, including all aspects of divorce and child custody.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation.