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Responsible Father Registry

Could you be the father of a child born out of wedlock?

You must act to protect your rights. South Carolina has the Responsible Father Registry which allows you to place your name, address and the names of the birth mother and child (if known) on the Registry. You can file before or after the child is born but you must do so before an action to terminate parental rights or for adoption has been filed with the court.

Once your name is listed on the registry, your parental rights cannot be terminated and your child cannot be adopted without you being given notice. If you move or change your address, you must notify the Registry of the change of address or you will lose your right to receive notification. Once you register, you will receive a certificate from the Department of Social Services that verifies that you have filed this claim.

If you do not file the claim of paternity with the Registry, the law states that you have given up your right to receive notice or be named as a party and served with papers if a case for termination of parental rights or adoption is filed. The law does require that you be given notice if any one of these four situations exists: (1) a court has found you to be the father of the child, (2) your name is on the birth certificate, (3) you are openly living with the child, the child's mother, or both, or (4) the mother has named you as the father in a sworn, written statement.

You, as the father, are the only one who can file this claim; no one else can do it for you. If, at a later date, you decide that this was not the right thing for you to do, you may file a revocation with the Department of Social Services. This action cancels the claim.

There is no cost to you to file the claim, revoke the claim or change your address.

When you file the claim, you are not admitting paternity of the child; and, your claim can not be used in court as evidence in any proceeding. The Department of Social Services keeps the Registry which is not subject to public information. The Registry can only be checked under these circumstances: (1) when the Department of Social Services has an open child welfare case and has filed a written request, or (2) when a child placing agency or an attorney handling an adoption or termination of parental rights case files a written request. The Department of Social Services may not use the registry to locate non-custodial parents to establish or enforce child support.

You may file a claim with the Responsible Father Registry online at https://ssl.sc.gov/DSSFatherRegistry/FatherReg/RegIndex.aspx. You will need to create an account and complete the on-line form. Or, print out the form, complete it by hand and mail it to the following:

South Carolina Department of Social Services
Responsible Father Registry
P.O. Box 1520
Columbia, SC 29202
Visit www.scchildrencomefirst.org for more information.