THE MCMILLIAN LAW FIRM - PROVIDING COMPASSIONATE FAMILY LAWS SERVICES TO THE CITIZENS OF CHARLESTON, SC AND SUMMERVILLE, SC
The process of adopting a child by a foster parent can be very cumbersome and costly. There are many legal hurdles have to be met spot on in order to prevent delays in the adoption process and insure that you will not be subject to any legal challenges in the future from the biological parents of the child. This specific article will address the legal protections offered by law to the unwed biological fathers of children and how a prospective adoptive family must meet certain legal metrics to adopt the child of an unwed father. Unwed biological father refers to fathers who were not married to the biological mother at the birth of the child and have not married the biological mother after the birth of the child. Children of parents who then divorce after their birth are not subject to the following laws.
WHEN THE CONSENT OF UNWED FATHERS IS REQUIRED IN SOUTH CAROLINA?
In most instances in South Carolina, an adoption by a potential adoptive family can not proceed unless the biological parents of the child consent to the adoption or the parental rights of the biological parents are terminated. (S.C. Code Ann. Sec. 63-9-310 (A)(2)) The consent, absent a termination of parental rights, would be required under South Carolina law even if, on its face, the adoption would serve the best interest of the child.
Specifically as it concerns the unwed biological father of the child, whether his consent is required under South Carolina law or not is very fact specific. South Carolina law specifically states at S.C. Code Ann. Sec. 63-9-310(A)(4) that the consent of the unwed biological father is required when:
- the child was placed with the prospective adoptive family less than 6 months after the child's birth; and
- the father has openly lived with the child or the child's mother for a continuous period of 6 months immediately preceding the placement of the child for adoption; and
- the father openly held himself out to be the child's father during the 6 month period or the father paid support for the child or for the pregnancy or for birth expenses.
In general terms, the ability of the unwed biological father to contest any potential adoption is rooted in the action's of the father prior to, during, and after the birth of the child. The law requires that the unwed biological father is somewhat involved in the family structure and the financial support of the child, and to a lesser extent the mother, in order to reserve his rights to contest a future adoption.
The South Carolina Court of Appeals specifically stated in the case of Ex Parte Black, 330 S.C. 431 (Ct. App. 1998) that the unwed father's attempts to contest an adoption is not satisfied by just being in the child's life. The Court held that the statute requires that any relationship with the child must include a prompt, good faith effort to assume financial responsibility for the child or assist the mother in her pregnancy and/or birth expense.
The South Carolina Court of Appeals further comments in Parag v. Baby Boy Lovin, 333 S.C. 221 (Ct. App. 1998) that there is a timing element to the unwed father's need to provide support. The Court held that once an unwed father learns he is the father of a child, or an expected child, he must make timely efforts to locate the child, begin to establish a parental relationship with the child and assume parental responsibilities (financial support). If the unwed father does not meet all of these requirements in a timely manner then his consent to a subsequent adoption may not be required.
The law in South Carolina makes it very clear that if a unwed biological father wants to have any input into the permanent living arrangement for his child, he must interject himself into the life of the child immediately upon knowing that the child is his (or possibly his) and must provide financial support to the child and/or the mother.
THE MCMILLIAN LAW FIRM - YOUR CHARLESTON, SC AND SUMMERVILLE, SC FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY
Seeking Adoption of a child or contesting an adoption is a very nuanced event in Family Law that someone should not attempt to navigate without legal counsel by their side. A lack of understanding of the underlying law and necessary evidence to support your case can have tremendous ramifications on the future of the child. If you need immediate relief from the Family Court or need answers from a Charleston and Summerville Family Law Attorney, please call us immediately!!
If you live in Charleston, Mt. Pleasant, Summerville, North Charleston, Moncks Corner, James Island, West Ashley, Folly Beach, Johns Island, Walterboro, or any of the other fine communities of the South Carolina Low Country, do not wait another moment. Act now!! Contact The McMillian Law Firm at 843-900-1306 or email us at [email protected] and scheduled your free Family Law consultation today.