Fatherhood Registry

The Responsible Father Registry gives a man who has fathered a child with a woman to whom he is not married to the right to be notified when an adoption or a termination of parental rights action occurs.

How does DSS help?

DSS maintains the Responsible Father Registry for fathers who may be a child’s biological father. Attorneys who file adoptions and work on cases involving termination of parental rights in South Carolina check the registry to keep registered fathers aware of court proceedings with their children. An unmarried biological father who is not listed on the registry may still receive notice of important hearings about a child; however, it is important for an unmarried father to list his name on the registry to preserve the right to notice with greater certainty. 


Registering is the first step for a man who might be the unmarried father to seize the opportunity to assert his rights to a child that he may have fathered. A presumptive father may register before or after the birth of the child.

Registration on the Responsible Fatherhood registry is not necessary under the following conditions: their name is recorded on the birth certificate, has a sworn statement identifying themselves as the father, openly living with mother who is indicating him to be the father, or is adjudicated by the court (paying child support). Persons who have been found mentally incapable of giving consent are not eligible for the registry. Fathers who aren’t sure of their paternity are encouraged to register with the Responsible Father Registry.

If a presumptive father does not register, he may lose his right to object to the termination of his parental rights or the adoption of his child. By registering, a possible presumptive father ensures his rights to receive notice of a court action for termination of his parental rights.

A registration is not valid if it is filed after a complaint for termination of parental rights or adoption is filed in court.

Presumptive/Presumed fathers: If you have questions and want to know about your legal rights you should contact your attorney for advice.

Ready to register with the Responsible Father Registry?

Register online or visit any county DSS office to fill out and file registry paperwork.

Do you have a complaint regarding services being provided to a child by a state agency? Please submit your complaint by phone (1-800-206-1957) or an electronic submission form here with the South Carolina Department of Children's Advocacy.