Goff v. Benedict

Decision Date08 January 1969
Docket NumberNo. 18856,18856
Citation165 S.E.2d 269,252 S.C. 83
CourtSouth Carolina Supreme Court
PartiesWillis W. GOFF, Sr. and Elizabeth T. Goff, Respondents, v. Shirley Jean Ghent Goff BENEDICT, Willis W. Goff, Jr., and Angela Kay Goff, a minor under the age of fourteen years, of whom Shirley Jean Ghent Goff Benedict is, Appellant.

Forrest K. Abbott, Cayce, and Saleeby, Saleeby & Herring, Hartsville, for appellant.

James P. Mozingo, III, D. Kenneth Baker and John R. Etheridge, Jr., Darlington, for respondents.

MOSS, Chief Justice.

This is an adoption proceeding instituted by Willis W. Goff, Sr., and Elizabeth T. Goff, the respondents herein, wherein they seek to adopt their granddaughter, Angela Kay Goff. The proceeding was instituted on November 22, 1966, by the service of a verified summons, petition and notice for the appointment of a Guardian ad litem for the minor, Angela Kay Goff. Joined as parties to the proceeding were Willis W. Goff, Jr., and Shirley Jean Ghent Goff Benedict, the parents of said child. The Child, of course, was also a party to the proceeding. A Guardian ad litem was appointed and he filed an answer submitting the rights and interests of the minor child to the protection of the court. Shirley Jean Ghent Goff Benedict, the natural mother of the child, filed her answer alleging that she does not consent to the adoption sought by the respondents and has not and will not relinquish and give up her rights to her minor daughter. She further alleges that it is her purpose to seek a modification of the decree of divorce in Richland County which granted custody of the said minor to her former husband, Willis W. Goff, Jr., and that she will in such proceeding ask that the custody of the said child be granted to her.

This adoption proceeding came on to be heard by The Honorable D. Carl Cook, Judge of the Civil and Criminal Court of Darlington County. The testimony of the parties was taken and, thereafter, on May 1, 1968, an order granting the adoption of the minor child by the respondents was issued. The mother of the child has appealed to this Court from the foregoing order.

Willis W. Goff, Jr. and Shirley Jean Ghent Goff (now Benedict) were married in Darlington County on April 15, 1959 and there was born of this marriage, on January 3, 1960, a daughter, Angela Kay Goff. For some period of time Angela Kay Goff and her parents lived in the home of the respondents. Approximately a year after her birth, an operation for the removal of a tumor on the spine was performed on the minor child. About four months after the operation, the appellant went to Columbia and obtained employment, the child remaining with the respondents. Approximately four months after the appellant went to Columbia, her husband moved to Columbia with the child and there remained until they separated. In February, 1963, Willis W. Goff, Jr. instituted an action in the Richland County Court for a divorce A vinculo matrimonii from the appellant. The Richland County Court granted the divorce on the statutory ground of desertion and awarded the custody and control of Angela Kay Goff to him but allowing the mother reasonable rights of visitation with the child and to have the child visit with her not to exceed one weekend of each calendar month, or for longer period when agreed to by the parties.

It appears that Angela Kay Goff has lived in the home of the respondents since her parents separated in 1962. It likewise appears that the appellant instituted unsuccessful actions in courts in Richland and Lexington Counties in an effort to regain custody of her child. The appellant has made several visits to Darlington for the purpose of seeing her child, such visits on occasions resulting in unpleasantness and discord between her and one of the respondents. It is undisputed that the child has received excellent care and attention, including medical service, during her stay with her grandparents.

The appellant has filed several exceptions to the order of the trial judge but the pertinent question to be determined is whether or not a child can be adopted without the consent of one of the natural parents.

The adoption of a child was a proceeding unknown to the common law. The transfer of the natural right of the parents to their child was against its policy and repugnant to its principles. Adoption had its origin in the civil law and exists in this state only by virtue of statutory authority which expressly prescribes the conditions under which adoption may legally be effected. Driggers v. Jolly, 219 S.C. 31, 64 S.E.2d 19.

It is generally held that consent lies at the foundation of statutes of adoption and under our statute, Section 10--2587.7, 1967 Cumulative Supplement to the Code, it is provided as follows:

'An adoption of a child may be decreed when there have been filed written consents to adoption executed by:

'(a) Both parents, if living, or the surviving parent, 'regardless of age' of a legitimate child; provided that consent shall not be required from one whose parental rights have been judicially terminated, or from one who has been made a party to the adoption proceeding and duly served;'

It is stated in many cases that adoption statutes providing for a procedure or method by which one person may be adopted as the child of another are in derogation of the common law and, therefore, to be strictly construed in favor of the parent and the preservation of...

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14 cases
  • Joiner ex rel. Rivas v. Rivas, 2990.
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • May 10, 1999
    ...relationship of parent and child. Leone v. Dilullo, 294 S.C. 410, 413, 365 S.E.2d 39, 40 (Ct.App.1988) (citing Goff v. Benedict, 252 S.C. 83, 86-87, 165 S.E.2d 269, 271 (1969)); Wilson v. Higgins, 294 S.C. 300, 304, 363 S.E.2d 911, 913-14 (Ct.App.1987). South Carolina's statutory scheme for......
  • Hudson v. Blanton
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • April 16, 1984
    ...to be strictly construed in favor of the parent and the preservation of the relationship of parent and child. Goff v. Benedict, 252 S.C. 83, 165 S.E.2d 269 (1969). The burden of proof of establishing the facts justifying the adoption is on the person desiring to adopt, and the mere existenc......
  • McLaughlin v. Strickland
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • December 5, 1983
    ...Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, as amended; D'Augustine v. Bush, 269 S.C. 342, 237 S.E.2d 384 (1977); Goff v. Benedict, 252 S.C. 83, 165 S.E.2d 269 (1969). The Family Court must also determine whether the adoption is in the best interest of the child, having due regard for the circums......
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • April 19, 1999
    ...39, 40 (Ct.App.1988); Wilson v. Higgins, 294 S.C. 300, 304, 363 S.E.2d 911, 913-14 (Ct.App. 1987); see, e.g., Goff v. Benedict, 252 S.C. 83, 86-87, 165 S.E.2d 269, 271 (1969) (strictly construing adoption Discussion The mother argues on appeal that the family court erred in terminating her ......
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