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Responsible Father Registry

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

Once his name is listed on the registry, his parental rights cannot be terminated and his child cannot be adopted without him being given notice. If he moves or changes his address, he must notify the Registry of the change of address or he will lose his right to receive notification. Once he registers, he will receive a certificate from the Department of Social Services that verifies that he has filed this claim.

If he does not file the claim of paternity with the Registry, the law states that he has given up his 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 he be given notice if any one of these four situations exists: (1) a court has found him to be the father of the child, (2) his name is on the birth certificate, (3) he is openly living with the child, the child's mother, or both, or (4) the mother has named him as the father in a sworn, written statement.

The father is the only one who can file this claim; no one else can do it for him. If, at a later date, he decides that this was not the right thing to do, he may file a revocation with the Department of Social Services. This action cancels the claim.

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

When he files the claim, he is not admitting paternity of the child; and, his 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.

Fathers may file a claim with the Responsible Father Registry online at https://ssl.sc.gov/DSSFatherRegistry/FatherReg/RegIndex.aspx. He 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