2020 South Carolina Code of Laws
Title 63 - South Carolina Children's Code
Chapter 7 - Child Protection And Permanency
Section 63-7-1660. Services with removal.

Universal Citation: SC Code § 63-7-1660 (2020)

(A) Upon investigation of a report received under Section 63-7-310 or at any time during the delivery of services by the department, the department may petition the family court to remove the child from custody of the parent, guardian, or other person legally responsible for the child's welfare if the department determines by a preponderance of evidence that the child is an abused or neglected child and that the child cannot be safely maintained in the home in that he cannot be protected from unreasonable risk of harm affecting the child's life, physical health, safety, or mental well-being without removal. If a noncustodial parent is not named as a party in the removal petition, the agency shall exercise every reasonable effort to promptly notify the noncustodial parent that a removal proceeding has been initiated and of the date and time of any hearings scheduled pursuant to this section.

(B)(1) The petition shall contain a full description of the reasons why the child cannot be protected adequately in the custody of the parent or guardian, including facts supporting the department's allegation that the child is an abused or neglected child as defined in Section 63-7-20 and that retention of the child in or return of the child to the home would place the child at unreasonable risk of harm affecting the child's life, physical health or safety, or mental well-being and the child cannot reasonably be protected from this harm without being removed, a description of the condition of the child, any previous efforts to work with the parent or guardian, in-home treatment programs which have been offered and proven inadequate, and the attitude of the parent or guardian towards placement of the child in an alternative setting. The petition also shall contain a statement of the harms the child is likely to suffer as a result of removal and a description of the steps that will be taken to minimize the harm to the child that may result upon removal.

(2) The petition for removal may include a petition for termination of parental rights. The petition for removal must include a petition for termination of parental rights if court records or other evidence indicate the existence of one or more of the conditions set forth in Section 63-7-1640(C)(1) through (8), unless there are compelling reasons for believing that termination of parental rights would be contrary to the best interests of the child.

(C)(1) Whether or not the petition for removal includes a petition for termination of parental rights, the petition shall contain a notice informing the parents of the potential effect of the hearing on their parental rights and a notice to all interested parties that objections to the sufficiency of a placement plan, if ordered, or of any recommendations for provisions in the plan or court order must be raised at the hearing. The notice must be printed in boldface print or in all upper case letters and set off in a box.

(2) If the petition includes a petition for termination of parental rights, the notice shall state: "As a result of this hearing, you could lose your rights as a parent".

(3) If the petition does not include a petition for termination of parental rights, the notice shall state: "At this hearing the court may order a treatment plan. If you fail to comply with the plan, you could lose your rights as a parent".

(D) Upon receipt of a removal petition under this section, the family court shall schedule a hearing to be held within thirty-five days of the date of receipt to determine whether removal is necessary. The parties to the petition must be served with a summons and notices of right to counsel and the hearing date and time along with the petition. Personal jurisdiction over the parties is effected if they are served at least seventy-two hours before the hearing. No responsive pleading to the petition is required. The court may authorize service by publication in appropriate cases and may waive the thirty-five days requirement when necessary to achieve service. A party may waive service or appear voluntarily.

(E) The court shall not order that a child be removed from the custody of the parent or guardian unless the court finds that the allegations of the petition are supported by a preponderance of evidence including a finding that the child is an abused or neglected child as defined in Section 63-7-20 and that retention of the child in or return of the child to the home would place the child at unreasonable risk of harm affecting the child's life, physical health or safety, or mental well-being and the child cannot reasonably be protected from this harm without being removed.

(F)(1) It is presumed that a newborn child is an abused or neglected child as defined in Section 63-7-20 and that the child cannot be protected from further harm without being removed from the custody of the mother upon proof that:

(a) a blood or urine test of the child at birth or a blood or urine test of the mother at birth shows the presence of any amount of a controlled substance or a metabolite of a controlled substance unless the presence of the substance or the metabolite is the result of medical treatment administered to the mother of the infant or the infant, or

(b) the child has a medical diagnosis of fetal alcohol syndrome; and

(c) a blood or urine test of another child of the mother or a blood or urine test of the mother at the birth of another child showed the presence of any amount of a controlled substance or a metabolite of a controlled substance unless the presence of the substance or the metabolite was the result of medical treatment administered to the mother of the infant or the infant, or

(d) another child of the mother has the medical diagnosis of fetal alcohol syndrome.

(2) This presumption may be rebutted by proof that the father or another adult who will assume the role of parent is available and suitable to provide care for the child in the home of the mother. The father or the other adult must be made a party to the action and subject to the court's order establishing the conditions for maintaining the child in the mother's home. This statutory presumption does not preclude the court from ordering removal of a child upon other proof of alcohol or drug abuse or addiction by the parent or person responsible for the child who has harmed the child or threatened the child with harm.

(G) If the court removes custody of the child, the court's order shall contain a finding by the court of whether reasonable efforts were made by the department to prevent removal of the child and a finding of whether continuation of the child in the home would be contrary to the welfare of the child. The order shall state:

(1) the services made available to the family before the removal of the child and how they related to the needs of the family;

(2) the efforts of the agency to provide these services to the family before removal;

(3) why the efforts to provide services did not eliminate the need for removal; and

(4) whether the efforts to eliminate the need for removal were reasonable including, but not limited to, whether they were reasonably available and timely, reasonably adequate to address the needs of the family, reasonably adequate to protect the child and realistic under the circumstances. If the department's first contact with the child occurred under such circumstances that reasonable services would not have allowed the child to remain safely in the home, the court shall find that removal of the child without services or without further services was reasonable.

HISTORY: 2008 Act No. 361, Section 2; 2010 Act No. 160, Section 2, eff May 12, 2010.

Effect of Amendment

The 2010 amendment added the second sentence to subparagraph (B)(2), relating to when a petition for removal must include a petition for termination of parental rights.

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