When a child’s parents are deemed unfit or have their parental privileges removed, the children may be placed in a foster home. In these cases, it is usually preferable for the child to live with a member of his or her own family, such as a grandparent, aunt, or uncle. If this sounds like your situation, you may be wondering the difference between having your grandchild or nephew live with you versus going through the official adoption process. As a Greenville, South Carolina family adoption lawyer will tell you, it is paramount that you take the proper steps to adapt your family member if you want them to ensure their best interests are met.
Why Seek Family Adoption in Greenville, South Carolina?
Grandparents or other family caregivers may already provide care for their young family member due to various types of circumstances. When a parent is unable to care for their child, relatives often step in to help. Simply taking care of a child is not the same thing as a family adoption, however. Even if an aunt or grandparent is technically the primary caregiver, the parents are still legally responsible for providing for the child, and they can make legal decisions for their kid that the other family members cannot.
A family adoption allows a grandparent to make decisions for the child and makes them the official caregivers who are responsible for that child’s overall well-being. When the biological parents are unable to provide financial support or are unavailable for their daily needs, it is beneficial for a relative to step in to take over these responsibilities. You must legally follow the adoption process for adopting a grandchild. Adopting a grandchild is a legal procedure and once complete you will be considered the child’s parent.
Family Adoption Laws in Greenville, SC
The adoption process in Greenville, SC is governed by legislation. The South Carolina Adoption Act provides specific legislation for how adoptions must be handled. Prior to 2014, the law did not provide information specifically for grandparent adoptions. The law was amended in 2014 to allow for an easier adoption process as well as grandparent visitations.
Grandparents and other family members are likely candidates for permanent placement because it is often best for the child to remain part of their biological family. The law recognizes that grandparent adoption is usually a better alternative than placement outside the family. It is important to note that just because you are a grandparent does not mean that you will automatically be allowed to adopt your grandchild. You must still go through the adoption process and meet the requirements for adoption in order to complete a grandparent adoption in Greenville, South Carolina.
Grandparent Adoption in Greenville, South Carolina
While grandparents are not automatically allowed to adopt their grandchildren, it is common for them to be the de facto custodians or primary caregivers in the absence of the biological parent(s). This is not the same thing as adopting a child, but you can use this time spent as a de facto custodian to show that you should receive custody.
Adopting a grandchild is one of the most important decisions you can make once it is determined that the child’s biological parents are unfit or they decide to terminate their parental rights of their own will. When adopting a grandchild, the grandparent needs to show that he or she has been the primary caregiver in place of the biological parent. This proof can be in the form of financial payments that you have a clear record of or signed documents that show you were the guardian of the child for a set period of time. Your family adoption lawyer can help you find other evidence that you acted as the child’s guardian.
There are additional requirements that must be met in order to be considered the de facto custodian of a child. A child under the age of three years old must have lived with the grandparent for a period of at least six months, and a child over the age of three must have lived with their grandparent for at least one year prior to filing for a grandparent adoption.
Seek Help from a Family Adoption Attorney in Greenville, South Carolina
Adopting a grandchild, niece, or nephew is not as simple as stating your intent. You may need to prove that you are capable of caring for and raising the child in question. If you have been caring for them for some period of time, you may need to prove this before the courts allow the adoption to move forward.
That’s where a Greenville, South Carolina family adoption lawyer can help. By proving that the biological parent is unfit due to neglect, drug abuse, or alcohol abuse, while simultaneously providing evidence that you have been caring for the child in the biological parent’s absence, you could streamline the family adoption process and make it easier for everyone involved. Your attorney will help you understand the adoption process and work with you every step of the way.
Family adoption in Greenville, SC is a complicated area of the law. Every case is different, and your situation has its own unique set of circumstances. Contact Greenville Family Law today to schedule a consultation to discuss adopting a grandchild.