Stepparent Custody Rights in South Carolina

Stepparent Custody Rights in South Carolina

Stepparents play a crucial role in helping to raise children who they are not biologically related to every day across the country. Bonds can form, and the stepparent may feel as if the child is their own. But what happens if the second marriage fails and children are separated from the stepparent who has been helping to raise them? In this post, we’ll discuss stepparent custody rights in South Carolina.

Stepparent Legal Rights: Step Parent Adoption

Unfortunately for many step-parents, the only way that South Carolina affords them the same rights as the stepchild’s biological parents is if they have legally adopted their stepchild or stepchildren. Only once a South Carolina adoption is finalized will a step parent have the same legal rights of visitation and child custody in South Carolina as a natural parent.

Stepparent adoption is not always an option, however. In order for a step parent to legally adopt their stepchild, the natural parent to the stepchild must give consent. The only way around this is if the natural parent is deceased or has had their parental rights terminated.

Stepparent Custody Rights: Step Parent Visitation May Be Possible

In the event that adoption is not an option, there is still a possibility that a stepparent may be allowed to continue visiting or even be awarded partial custody of a stepchild even after a divorce has occurred. South Carolina’s Children’s Code allows for a “de facto custodian” to request custody and visitation rights to a stepchild.

In order to establish that an individual has served as a de facto custodian, the individual must have been the primary caregiver for and financial supporter of the child. This person must also have lived with the child for at least six months if the child is under three years old or have lived with the child for at least one year if the child is older than three years old.

The de facto custodian is not specific to a stepparent-stepchild relationship. It may be used by anyone who fits the criteria in their relationship to the child, including grandparents or other family members who become the primary caregiver and live with the child.

How a South Carolina Family Law Attorney can Help

Blended families present many unique legal challenges in the realm of family law. Many step parents may be confused by or unaware of the options they have in regards to child custody in the event of a divorce. Therefore, it is important to consult with a knowledgeable family law attorney who can help you to better understand your step parent legal rights. The attorneys at Klok Law Firm LLC in Mt. Pleasant can sit down and help to guide you through the rocky process of divorce and obtaining child custody.

Contact us today for a consultation on your case.