South Carolina Adoption Laws

Adoptions make up some of the happiest moments in family courts where children are legally acknowledged as children of the the adoptive parents. While adoptions can be an easy process, such as when a stepparent adopts a stepchild and all parties consent, sometimes problems can arise with international adoptions or adoptions through foster care where parental rights haven’t been terminated. No matter what your situation, if you plan to adopt a child or an adult in South Carolina, you need to know the law.

The table below outlines the main South Carolina adoption laws.

Code Section South Carolina Code Title 63: Children’s Code, Chapter 9: Adoptions
Who May Be Adopted Any child in the state at the time the adoption petition is filed (wherever he or she may have been born or resided) and any adult can be adopted.
Who May Adopt Any South Carolina resident may petition the family court to adopt a child. Non-residents may apply in exceptional circumstances, including:
  • The child is a relative by blood or marriage
  • The child has special needs (sibling groups, mixed racial heritage, six years old or older, or children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities)
  • One or both adopted parents is in the military stationed in South Carolina
  • The child received notoriety and the best interests of the child would be served by living elsewhere (for example, a publicized horrendous abuse case)
  • The child has been in foster care for at least six months after being legally adoptable

Any adult person may adopt any other adult person.

Age that Child's Consent Needed A child 14 years and older must consent to the adoption, unless the child doesn’t have the mental capacity to give consent.
Home Residency Required Prior to Finalization of Adoption The adoptee must live with the petitioner for at least 90 days before the final hearing on the adoption.
State Agency The South Carolina Department of Social Services is the state agency responsible for providing adoption services to parents considering relinquishing their children for adoption, persons who want to adopt, and adoptees, adopted families, or birth parents interested in reunion registry to find biological relatives.
Court The courts in South Carolina with that hear adoption cases are the local family courts.
Statute of Limitations to Challenge After an adoption decree is entered no party to the adoption or other person may question its validity due to irregularity, jurisdiction, or other reasons. However, relief may be granted after the adoption decree in the case of extrinsic fraud that induces a person not to present a case or deprives a person the opportunity to be heard.

If you want more information on any part of the adoption process or are running into legal problems, you should consult an experienced South Carolina adoption lawyer.

Note: Because state laws change frequently, it’s important to verify the accuracy of the laws you’re researching by either conducting your own research or contacting an attorney.

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