Can Adults Be Adopted in South Carolina?

As family law attorneys in South Carolina, we’ve been asked whether adults can be adopted in South Carolina. The short answer is “yes.” In this article, we will discuss some reasons for adult adoption, who can adopt an adult in South Carolina, the adoption age limit in South Carolina, the adoption process in South Carolina, and more.

Can You Adopt an Adult in South Carolina?

Yes. While people usually think of adoptions as only involving children, there are occasions where it makes sense for an adult to be adopted. Some of these reasons are:

  • Formalizing the emotional connection that some people have with their foster parents, step-parent, or other loved ones. For some people, they feel this process is the final step of forming the bond that has existed for years. Many people find comfort in being able to say, instead of “he’s like a father to me,” saying “that’s my dad (or mom, or both).”
  • Creating rights of inheritance, although we still may recommend having your estate planning documents such as wills and trusts be created or updated.
  • Creating legal “next of kin” rights so the adopting parents and adopted adult can have a higher priority in each other’s legal and medical decisions in case one becomes incapacitated.
  • In more limited situations, the new legal relationship could affect insurance eligibility.

A Decree of Adoption will terminate the legal connection and rights between the adopted adult and his or her natural parents, including the rights of inheritance. In this article, the family court lawyers at Futeral & Nelson answer some of the most commonly asked questions for adults considering the adult adoption process.

Who Can Adopt an Adult in South Carolina?

An adoption can occur between any adults who consent to the adoption. In step-parent cases, there could be only one adopting parenting while the other parent simply participates in the action to retain his or her status as a biological parent. In foster parent situations, there will be two adopting parents. It all depends on the situation. If an adoptive parent is married, that person’s spouse must also consent to the adoption. If the adoptee has a mental or other disability or incapacitation that makes consent not legally possible, that person’s guardian can give the required consent. It is not required that there be a parent-child bond for adult adoption to occur. In some instances, siblings or close friends adopt each other, mainly in situations where one is the primary caretaker of the other.

What is the Adoption Age Limit in South Carolina?

Any person 18 years of age or older can be adopted under South Carolina’s adult adoption laws. There is no required age difference between an adopting parent and an adoptee. In theory, you could adopt someone older than you.

What is the Adoption Process in South Carolina and How Long Does It Take?

The process is very simple. In most cases, we prepare the necessary paperwork, have everyone sign consent forms, file a Petition for Adoption in the Family Court, and have a hearing in front of a family court judge. The hearing is regularly under 15 minutes. Unless the judge finds an unforeseen reason that it’s not in everyone’s best interests, the judge then signs the Decree of Adoption we prepared, and the Decree is filed by the Clerk of Court.

The length of time depends on the family court’s caseload at the time we file the Petition, but the court hearing is normally set 1 to 3 months after the date of filing.

Where Do We File the Petition for the Adoption in South Carolina?

In the county where the adoptive parent(s) reside. Our law firm can file these petitions in Charleston, Dorchester, Berkeley, Colleton, and Georgetown counties. If your case is in a different county, we are still happy to speak with you and decide whether it’s a case we should take or we’ll give you a referral to a trusted colleague in your area.

What is the Cost of Adult Adoption in South Carolina?

Because these are uncontested actions, we can quote you a flat fee after a short consultation.

Will An Adult Adoption Change the Adopted Person’s Birth Certificate?

It is not required, but yes, if the adoptee chooses to amend his or her South Carolina birth certificate to list the new parents as his or her parents, we can walk you through that process. In South Carolina, it involves an application to DHEC after obtaining the Decree of Adoption. If your birth certificate was issued in another state, you will need to contact an attorney in that state or that state’s registrar or vital records department to inquire. Regardless of the birth certificate options of that state, the legal effect of your South Carolina adoption will be recognized in all states.

Can the Adoptee also Take the Adoptive Parents’ Last Name?

Yes. There are a few additional requirements for a name change because the court wants to make sure the name change is not being done to defraud anyone or avoid legal obligations. We explain the name change process in South Carolina in more detail here.

Is the Adoption Permanent?

Under South Carolina law, it seems the only way to terminate the new adoption relationship is to be adopted by someone else.

How Do I Get Started?

Adult adoption consultations are free at Futeral & Nelson. Contact our office and schedule a consultation so we can answer any questions you have.

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