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South Carolina Department of Social Services

V. Susan Alford, State Director  

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What is a putative father?

A man who has fathered a child with a woman he is not married to.

What is the Responsible Father Registry?

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

   

A putative father may register before or after the birth of the child. A registration is not valid if it is filed after a complaint for termination of parental rights or adoption is filed in court.

Who Can Register?

Any man who thinks he is the father of a child by a woman he is not married to may register.

Is there a fee to register?

There is NO fee associated with registering.

Why Register?

The Registry is checked by attorneys when they file adoptions and termination of parental rights cases. By registering, the putative father gains the right to receive notice of these court proceedings.

What are the consequences of not registering?

If a putative father does not register, he may lose his right to object to termination of his rights or to adoption of the child.

Will the Registry be used to enforce child support?

The registry is NOT used to enforce child support payments.

What are the rights of a putative father?

By registering as a putative father, a father insures his rights to receive notice of court actions for termination of his parental rights and for adoption of the child.

Putative fathers who have questions and want to know about their legal rights should contact an attorney for advice.

Must all putative fathers register to protect their rights?

Even if they do not register, the unmarried biological fathers described below have not waived their right to notice of adoption proceedings:

  • a person adjudicated by a court in this State to be the father of the child;
  • a person who is recorded on the child's birth certificate as the child's father;
  • a person who is openly living with the child or the child's mother, or both, at the time the proceeding is initiated and who is holding himself out to be the child's father;
  • a person who has been identified as the child's father by the mother in a sworn, written statement;
  • and a person whom the family court finds to be mentally incapable of giving consent or relinquishment for the purpose of adoption

Even if they do not register, these unmarried biological fathers have not waived their right to notice of termination of parental rights proceedings:

  • A person adjudicated by a court in this State to be the father of the child;
  • A person who is recorded on the child's birth certificate as the child's father;
  • A person who is openly living with the child or the child's mother, or both, at the time the proceeding is initiated and who is holding himself out to be the child's father; and
  • A person who has been identified as the child's father by the mother in a sworn, written statement

If you are not sure whether you fit in one of these categories, register!

How can I register?

Fathers may register online by visiting the Responsible Father Registry website , or by sending an application by mail.

Important Notice:

After a father registers with the Responsible Father Registry, he must notify the Registry of address changes. If he does not notify the Registry of his change of address, the father loses his right to receive notice through The Responsible Father Registry.

Hotlines

  • To Report Child or Adult Abuse and Neglect call your local county office:
  • For information on SNAP benefits, contact DSS CONNECT at 1-800-616-1309 or any local DSS office during normal business hours.
  • To report Vendor/Retailer/DSS Employee Fraud
  • Report State Agency Fraud (Office of the Inspector General)