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Letter: Setting the record straight on Family Court

Posted: May 3, 2018 1:54 p.m.
Updated: May 4, 2018 1:00 a.m.

In reading and responding to Clint Doran’s letter, which appeared in the Tuesday, May 1, 2018, edition of the Chronicle-Independent, I realize that I do not know Mr. Doran or the circumstances which prompted him to write the letter. I do know, however, that Mr. Doran’s allegations are not true in most cases and  we need to set the record straight.

When I became a volunteer Guardian ad Litem 17 years ago, I first struggled with the idea that government could remove a child from his or her parents. However, it did not take long for me, as an advocate for the child in court, to understand what was meant by “the best interest of the child.” Of the dozens of cases to which I have abeen appointed, there has never been a time in which removal of the child was not warranted. The citizens of Kershaw County would be shocked to learn about the severity and frequency of the instances of child abuse and neglect which occur in this county.

Mr. Doran claims that “the rights of our children are thrown to the side for the almighty dollar … all with simple allegations and no proof.” He is wrong. When a child is removed from the home, a Probable Cause Hearing must be held within 72 hours. If there is no probable cause, the child is returned to the home. If there is probable cause, a Merits Hearing must be held within 35 days to determine the facts of the case. Depending on the outcome of the Merits Hearing, the child may bgo home or he may be placed in foster care. If the child is placed in foster care, the parents will be given a treatment plan to address the issues of concern, which could result in the reunification of the family.

Family Court judges who serve Kershaw County are men and women who know the law and make every effort to see if the family problem can be rectified. After investigating all the facts of the case, it is the duty of the Guardian ad Litem to report to the Court what he determines to be “the best interest of the child.” I have had a case of physical abuse in which the child almost died, and I have also had cases in which drug-influenced parents have neglected their children to the point of endangering the child’s life.

Being a parent is a great responsibility. Sadly, there are those who do not accept that responsibility. The Family Court serves to address a serious problem which can only be solved by protecting the children from potentially dangerous situations.

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