What are my rights as a Father in South Carolina?

What are my rights as Father in South Carolina?

As an unmarried Father, you have no legal rights to your child until you are declared as the Father by the Family Court. Until then, the Mother can allow you to see him or her (or not to) at her discretion. However, if you are prevented from having contact with the child without a valid reason, it can be regarded unfavorably for the Mother in the Court system. It is generally considered to be in the best interest of the child for him to have a relationship with both parents, and the Courts will typically enforce this unless there is a serious concern.

What if the Father’s name is on the Birth Certificate?

There is a common misconception that putting the Father’s name on the Birth Certificate negates the Mother’s total rights, but this is false. Even if the Father’s name is on the Birth Certificate, and he signs it, it does not alter the Mother’s rights as discussed above.

What happens if we have an out of Court agreement?

A custody or visitation agreement made outside of Court, even if it is signed and notarized, is not enforceable until it is ordered by a Judge. However, the agreement can be used as evidence during any future hearings.

Does paying child support entitle the Father to parental rights?

If a father is unofficially providing support, doing so does not guarantee parental rights. However, if the support stems from a DSS child support judgment, it does entitle the father to equal rights to the child. The DSS process involves an official paternity judgment, and once the father is declared, he and the Mother legally share rights to the child.

Can one parent keep the child from the other? What can I do if this happens?

If you an unmarried, and there has not been a DSS paternity judgment, the Father cannot keep the child from the Mother. In situations when a Father attempts to do so, the police will generally get involved if called and return the child to the Mother. However, if the parents are married or have shared legal rights (as discussed previously), the police will not get involved should one parent try to keep the child. Ultimately, the only resolution would be to go through the Court system.

Please remember that each case is unique and the information discussed above can often affected by a number of factors. Therefore, do not take this blog as legal advice and be sure to consult with an attorney.

If you have any questions about your rights as a father, mother, divorce, child custody, or family law in general, we urge you to contact us. In order to be flexible and convenient, we have open office hours, and easy appointment scheduling. Contact us today and schedule your confidential consultation.

Our law office serves people across the Upstate, South Carolina, including: Greenville, Spartanburg, Anderson, Pickens, Laurens, and Oconee counties.