South Carolina vs Texas in Child Custody Jurisdiction Dispute

Two poor, underage kids have a baby together in the state where she is from, South Carolina.

After the baby was born, they all spent time in Texas where he is from. Rough patch. Father files custody suit in Texas, but drops it.

Threesome returns to South Carolina.

Texas grandmother files custody suit in Texas and reports parents to social services in South Carolina. She alleged that the parents used drugs around the baby and that the maternal grandparents were drug dealers and worse. The parents couldn’t make the Texas hearing on just 3 days’ notice – so the Texas judge awarded custody to the paternal grandmother.

The maternal grandmother asked that the baby go into foster care rather than to the paternal grandmother in Texas. And that’s what happened.

The parents did get to visit their baby. The parents took all required parenting classes and drug education classes in an effort to get their baby back.

They hired a lawyer to challenge the Texas order based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Legally, the grounds for challenge were strong.

A South Carolina judge ruled that the Texas court did not have jurisdiction and that the Texas order was not valid. At a later South Carolina hearing, the baby was returned to her parents’ custody.

And then the Texas court held another hearing, again without the parents, and awarded custody to the baby’s paternal grandmother.

The Texas grandmother visited South Carolina. The parents allowed her to take the baby overnight to a motel for a visit.

And the paternal grandmother allegedly absconded with the baby to Texas.

The two states’ courts never communicated with each other in an effort to resolve the jurisdiction dispute. The parents never participated in the Texas proceedings. The grandmother never appealed the South Carolina proceedings.

If nothing else, this article illustrates the nightmare of “dueling custody orders”, which used to happen quite often. The uniform child custody jurisdiction statutes were intended to put an end to that though and, for the most part, have.

Unfortunately, for whatever reasons, neither the parties and their respective counsel, nor the judges in either state, fully utilized the tools made available under the child custody jurisdiction statutes to resolve the jurisdictional dispute early on.

Leading to chaos and confusion for all concerned.

Read more in this GoUpstate article: Part 1: Caught in the middle and Part 2: For area family, the legal wars begin and Part 3: Texas justice system now in control.