Gay marriage bans have faced legal challenges across the country. Earlier this month, a federal judge said the fate of Michigan's ban on gay marriage will be decided next February, disappointing gay-rights activists who believed his decision would be immediate, USA Today reported.
Same sex marriage is legal in 14 states and banned by constitutional amendment or state law in 35. South Carolina is one of the states that bans gay marriage.
The website Laws.com states: "Like most other states, South Carolina adopted DOMA. The Defense of Marriage Act was enacted by many states to clearly define marriage as to prohibit legalizing gay marriages. In South Carolina, gay marriage is legally forbidden. In addition, South Carolina approved a constitutional amendment that explicitly forbids same sex marriages and civil unions."
Given the state's stance against gay marriage, same sex couples would be forgiven for feeling pessimistic about their chances of adopting children.
However, there are no specific laws in South Carolina that prohibit same sex couples from adopting children. The law states that any person residing in the state may petition the court to adopt a child, and that any child or adult present within the state at the time the petition is filed can be adopted.
That's not to say it's easy for same sex couples. Opponents of equal rights for same sex couples have targeted foster care placement and adoption rights on a number of occasions, but measures to restrict same sex adoptions have been defeated, states SC Equality.
Instead South Carolina looks at what is best for the child on a case-by-case basis. The sole consideration by the courts in these cases should be the child's best interests and the best available situation for the child in question. As a general rule, any adult who is considered a "fit parent," may adopt.
Even so single sex couples may face difficulties adopting. Even though sexual orientation is not mentioned in the state's statues, it can become an issue in court and some judges may use it as a factor in deciding that a prospective adopter is unfit.
Due to the fact same sex marriage is not available in South Carolina, a person wishing to adopt the child of their same-sex partner must complete a second parent adoption, a process that can be far from easy.
This means in practice, same sex couples in South Carolina face some hurdles in adopting children, because they are not generally eligible for all of the protections available to opposite-sex married couples.
Adoption can be complicated enough for opposite-sex couples, but there are even more potential pitfalls for same sex couples.
It's, therefore, crucial to find the right kind of legal representation. An experienced Columbia family lawyer can help you through all of the steps involved in the complicated process of adopting a child. Our firm has had the privilege of helping a same sex couple adopt and would be honored to help others expand their families.
See our resources on same sex adoptions in South Carolina, or call the Masella Law Firm at 803.748.9990.