September 3, 2014 South Carolina Court of Appeals published opinion

State Department of Social Services v Massey

The family court denied Massey’s request for a merits hearing on abuse allegations on the ground that the children had been in foster care more than eighteen months and terminated her parental rights. The panel reversed and remanded. It held that under South Carolina Code 63-7-1660(E), Massey had a right to merits hearing as no determination had been made about the abuse allegations. The panel commented on the practice of department in Charleston County to enter deferral agreements and then doing permanency agreements without having the family court find abuse or neglect. It stated that this practice violates 1660(E) and is unconstitutional and must therefore stop. The panel also held the family court erred in dismissing the case involving a different child of Massey holding the child was placed pursuant to a removal action and the intervention statue relied upon by the family court did not apply.

 

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