If you are the father of a child born out of wedlock, it’s up to you to protect your rights.
In South Carolina, the Responsible Father Registry allows you to register your name, address, the name of the birth mother, and the name of your child (if known).
Who can file and when?
You can file before or after the child is born, but you must do so before an action to terminate parental rights or an action for adoption has been filed with the court. You, as the father, are the only one who can file this claim. No one else can do it for you.
After you register, you’ll receive a certificate from the Department of Social Services (DSS) verifying that you have filed this claim. If, at a later date, you decide this was not the right thing for you to do, you can file a revocation with DSS. That action will cancel the claim. If you move or change your address, you must notify the Registry of the change of address or you lose your right to receive a notification.
There is no cost for you to file a claim or change your address.
What does filing mean for you?
Once your name is listed on the registry, you must be given notice when action to terminate your parental rights is being initiated and before your child is adopted. When you file the claim, you are not admitting to the paternity of the child and your claim cannot be used as evidence in any court proceeding.
The Registry is not subject to public information and can only be checked when a written request is filed by:
- DSS in an open child welfare case
- A child-placing agency or attorney handling adoption or termination of parental rights
DSS is not permitted to use the registry to find non-custodial parents or enforce child support.
What happens if you don’t register?
If you do not file a paternity claim 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 termination of parental rights or an adoption case is filed. Even if you don’t register, the law does require that you be given notice if:
- A court has found you to be the father of the child
- Your name is on the birth certificate
- You are openly living with the child, the child's mother, or both
- The mother has named you as the father in a sworn written statement
File a claim with the Responsible Father Registry
- You can create an account and complete the online form.
- Or, print the form, complete it by hand, and mail to:
South Carolina Department of Social Services
Responsible Father Registry
P.O. Box 1520
Columbia, SC 29202