The Requirements for Adopting a Child in South Carolina

There are almost 438,000 children currently in the U.S. foster care system. Deciding to adopt is a big deal, but the fact that you are considering taking one kid from that number and placing them in a loving home is fantastic.

The adoption process, on the other hand, can frequently be frustrating and discouraging. While the South Carolinian requirements for adopting a child are in place for a reason, they can be complicated to navigate on your own

So, what do you need to adopt a child, exactly? We can help. Read on for all the answers to your burning adoption questions! 

Basic Requirements for Adopting a Child in South Carolina

You must be a South Carolina citizen to adopt in most cases, but there are a few cases in which nonresidents can adopt. For instance, nonresidents can adopt in SC if:

  • They are relatives of the child
  • The child is legally up for adoption, no resident has been found as an adoptive parent, and they’ve been under foster care for six months 
  • One parent is a military member stationed in South Carolina 
  • The child has special needs 
  • Extenuating circumstances determine that placing the child out of state is the best option for the child  

You are also required to complete at least two interviews with all members of the household, in addition to separate, individual interviews. The home study is one of the most critical parts of the adoption process, as the home is one of the best indicators of the right fit for a child.

An agency will evaluate your home’s location and your financial situation. They will make sure all members of the household undergo physical examinations and call any arrest or conviction records into question. They’ll assess the parents’ mental health, as well, along with their motivation to adopt.

Do You Have to Be Married to Adopt?

South Carolina law says that you do not need to be married to adopt. If you are married, though, both of you are legally required to consent to the adoption.

Keep in mind, though, that some adoption agencies have individual requirements. Some will require marriage to adopt. Some will even require you to be married for a certain number of years before you’re eligible. 

Same-sex couples are legally allowed to adopt in South Carolina, too!

Can I Adopt a Child from Another State?

The short answer is yes. The long answer is that the process is a lot more complicated that in-state adoption. 

Each state has their own adoption laws. When you adopt a child from another state, the Interstate Compact on Placement of Children, or ICPC, becomes involved.

The ICPC is responsible for upholding standards of a suitable home that is a good fit for the child when the line is not clear on which state is responsible for doing so.

Do You Have to Pay to Adopt a Child?

Adopting a child can cost anywhere between $1,500 to $40,000, depending on the circumstance. 

Adopting a relative tends to be the least expensive adoption process, while international adoption can cost up to $40,000 in foreign adoption agency fees. If you adopt a child in foster care, there is no fee. Do not forget that legal fees will still amount to around $3,000 though.

The cost of your adoption will also depend on how long the process takes. If your situation is complex, legal proceedings may take longer, therefore racking up the legal fees. 

Your New Family 

There are indeed a ton of requirements for adopting a child, but with the right lawyer’s help, you can be on your way to welcoming your new child into your family in no time.

At Indigo Family Law, we have intimate experience with the South Carolina adoption process. We have gone through it ourselves. Get in touch with us to find out how we can help demystify the process for you! 

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Starting Over After Divorce: How to Properly Reinvent Yourself

Divorce is not high on anyone’s list of great things. No one enters into marriage planning for a divorce a few years down the line. 

But if you are facing this significant life event, know that you are not alone.

Over 800,000 people get divorced each year in the US.

Many of them have, by necessity, learned how to reinvent themselves properly, and define a new normal, and you can too!

Here are some great tips for starting over after divorce.

Permit Yourself to Grieve

Divorce is different than losing a spouse to death. However, even if you wanted the divorce, you may find yourself experiencing feelings of grief.

This feeling is normal, and you need to permit yourself to grieve. No person has died, but the death of an intimate relationship often feels very similar. 

You have to let yourself feel and sort through those feelings. Do not dwell on the past or what you should or should not have done. But do recognize how you feel and allow yourself to work through that. 

You may wish to spend a few sessions with a counselor. Remember, this does not mean that you have a problem, it is merely a healthy way of dealing with how you feel.

Learn to Be Alone

We do not expect that you should be anti-social and cut yourself off from the world. Instead, do not be in a rush to enter another relationship.

Some people are hasty to jump into a new relationship immediately after their marriage dissolves. This search for partnership may not be a good idea. You need to give yourself time to learn to be alone.

You need time to figure out who you are as a single person. It is a strange feeling going from being a ‘we’ to a ‘me.’ You need time to process that. 

It is okay to date casually, a good idea even to have fun and relax. But do not get too serious too soon.

Discover Yourself

The advantage of being alone is that you have the chance to figure out who you are without the constraints of a relationship. Try a new hobby, learn a new skill, take that dream vacation you have always wanted to go on. 

Maybe you have secretly wanted to go back to school or take a few courses to further your career. Now is the perfect time to do that!

Embrace Your New Life and Have Fun

Permit yourself to enjoy life. Sometimes after a divorce, people feel guilty for feeling free. Or perhaps they spend a lot of time shrouded in regrets or thinking about the past.

Do not get caught up in that trap. Learn from your mistakes and try not to make the same ones again. But then move on. Focus instead on the road in front of you and the many positives about your situation.

Starting Over After Divorce Doesn’t Have to Be Hard

When the divorce papers are signed, and all is said and done, starting over after divorce can seem intimidating. But if you view it as an opportunity to embrace a new you this fresh start does not have to be scary. 

If you are still in the midst of your divorce, you will need help getting all the legalities taken care of. Feel free to contact us to help you settle things and start working towards your new life. 

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How Long Can Someone Go To Jail for Not Paying Child Support?

Child support can get tricky. 

Kids are expensive, and sometimes the court-ordered amount is not possible or reasonable.

Maybe you are sending what you can, and you have just fallen behind, or perhaps you are not able to send anything because of your current situation.

Either way, it can be a scary situation.

After all, words like “wage garnishment” and “jail time” are not exactly the most encouraging.

So if you are behind on your child support payments, you might find yourself wondering, “can and how long can someone go to jail for not paying child support?”

The short answer is yes, they can!

The longer answer? It’s a little more complicated. Let’s take a look at the process. 

What Happens When I Miss a Payment?

If you know you are going to miss a child support payment, the best thing to do is tell the custodial parent before you miss it. This communication is not possible in every situation, but if it is, honesty may be the best policy. It is especially important if your missed payment is due to an injury or layoff that is keeping you from working. 

If communicating in advance is not possible, or if you do not address your delinquency beforehand, the custodial parent is within their rights to report the missed payment to South Carolina’s Division of Child Support Services or DCSS. 

Once a petition is filed and a case opened by DCSS, a judge will schedule an enforcement hearing. This hearing is your chance to explain why you have missed payments. 

When the hearing date comes, make sure you bring any supporting documentation, such as medical records, that may help explain your delinquency. In the meantime, try your best to make at least partial payments. Often, a judge will see your actions as good faith attempts to fulfill your obligations and may be lenient. 

During this hearing, if the judge finds that you have violated your child support agreement, they will find you in “contempt of court“, and penalties will apply. 

What Could the Penalty Be?

Penalties for missing child support payments vary by circumstances. Every missed payment is not a one-way ticket to the county jail. Depending on your case details, you may face:

  • Fines
  • Garnished wages or benefits
  • Interception of tax refunds, personal injury suits, or unemployment benefits
  • Loss of recreation and driving license
  • Loss of passport
  • Property liens
  • Jail time

It is unlikely that a first offense will land you behind bars. 

Often, if you have documentation and a good reason for not paying, the court may modify your support obligation until your situation changes. 

How Long Can Someone go to Jail for Not Paying Child Support?

We know the worry is still there, even if the chance of jail time is unlikely. So how long can someone go to jail for not paying child support?

Because the official charge is contempt, rather than failing to pay child support, the law in South Carolina states that you may face $1500 in fines or up to a year in jail, and sometimes both. And while this is an unlikely outcome, it is still worrisome.

If you are facing a child support or contempt hearing for failing to pay child support, give us a call. We will help you find a solution. 

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Marriage Laws Defined: What is Okay in South Carolina?

If you are considering a divorce in South Carolina, you are not alone.

You may be surprised to learn that between 40 and 50% of couples in the United States will divorce. 

But before you decide on divorce, you may need to get more information on marriage in general. 

Even if a marriage is long-standing, it can still be invalid in the eyes of the court. Understanding marriage laws is one of the first steps in divorce.

Since South Carolina is one of the few states that allow common law marriages, some confusion exists on what constitutes a marriage.

Here is what’s considered not okay or invalid in a marriage.

Engagements and Common Law

Most people believe that if a couple lived together for some time, they are as good as married under common law. But common law marriages require more than cohabitation.

Common law marriages are invalid unless they prove a desire by both parties to be married. An example could be the result of filing tax returns as “married.”

But one way a common law marriage could be invalidated is with an engagement. An engagement indicates the parties were planning on getting married at a later date. 

Those plans mean the couple acknowledges they were not married yet. Just an engagement with no formal wedding may declare a common law marriage invalid.

Same-Sex Does Not Matter

If you are in a long-term same-sex relationship, your marriage may be legal for longer than you think. Just because same-sex marriage has only been legal in South Carolina since 2014, it does not affect the length of a common law marriage.

A judge recently ruled that a same-sex couple had a 30-year common law marriage.

Bigamy

If you can prove your mate was married when you married, your marriage will be declared invalid. 

You can also prove bigamy in some cases by showing that your mate was cohabitating with someone else, had children in another relationship, or other circumstances. 

Not Able to Enter a Contract

If one of the persons married is deemed not legally able to enter a contract, then the marriage is invalid. Marriage laws require the parties to be mentally competent to enter a contract.

This also applies to people who are too young to be married in the eyes of the courts. Any condition that prohibits a contract can declare a marriage invalid.  

Do You Understand South Carolina Marriage Laws?

If you have any question at all about marriage laws and how they apply to your relationship, it is important to have expert help.

With the best insight into your relationship, you can decide between invalidating a marriage and filing for divorce. Plus, you can pursue the best strategy to protect you and your loved ones. 

While legal marriages require a divorce to dissolve, the same is not true for all relationships. The best route for individuals who share children and assets is not always the same.

At Indigo Family Law, we will help you understand your specific case. While you’re at it, learn more about navigating custody issues in the best possible way.  

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Who Gets the Kids in a Divorce: When to Let the Kids Choose

The number of divorces per year in the United States is just under 100,000. That is a lot of couples jumping through hoops and suiting up for legal battles over the children.

With such a substantial number of divorces, there are a lot of opinions over how to decide who gets the kids in a divorce. Before you make any decisions, you should consider the following.

Who Gets the Kids in a Divorce?

While it may be a lot of stress and drama to have to interact with your ex, your kids deserve the right to know their mother and father.

Divorces can become messy battles where kids are forced to sit and wait while their future is decided for them by highly emotionally charged individuals going through one of the most painful experiences of their life.

Traditionally in court, mothers were given preference as the child care providers of the family but in today’s equalizing society, all options are considered equally, and many fathers are pursuing custody.

Before you demonize your spouse to your children and drag them through round after round of legal battles, you need to consider what you are fighting for. Is it what is best for your kids, or is it what you perceive as the best solution for yourself?

Divorcing With Small Children

When a child is young (before they turn ten) and you divorce, later in life they may have unresolved trauma about the event unless other factors are at play.

Having two parents that live separately and traveling between the houses is not inherently going to mess up your child. Kids can adjust to almost anything, perhaps because they often have no pre-ordained expectation for what is “normal.”

Many parents preoccupy themselves during their divorce thinking about how it will affect the children, but they should devote that energy to helping themselves heal and learning to communicate effectively with the other parent.

When to Let the Kids Choose

If your children are over the age of ten, then they have been in school for five years and made all sorts of friends. They have joined sports teams, bonded with their neighbors, and felt like a member of their community.

During a divorce, many parents have to downsize from their marital homes and move to a new community often forcing their child to change schools. This loss of control can be damaging during development.

Although your child is not an adult, they deserve the opportunity to build a life for themselves. Unless your spouse is abusive, you should understand that they deserve time with their child as well and let the child choose how they want to spend their time.

Finding the Right Attorney

Deciding who gets the kids in a divorce can be a long and hard struggle, but you don’t have to turn the ending of your marriage into a bloody fight to the finish for the kids.

Let us steer you toward a solution. Contact us for a consultation today.

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How Much is the Average Monthly South Carolina Child Support Payment?

Enduring a legal separation or divorce process in South Carolina is already difficult for everyone involved, especially children, but now the court is assigning your monthly child support payment.

The court assigns South Carolina child support according to your finances and responsibility for any children. Want to learn how much you could pay?

We have got you covered. We will discuss how the court will determine your child support payment and your estimated monthly payment. Read on to learn more.

Must-Know Basics About Child Support in South Carolina

According to the South Carolina Child Support Guidelines, either parent can request child support regardless of their responsibility for any children. Both parents must contribute to the well-being of any children.

Keep in mind that the SC court can order one or both parents to pay child support. If the parents of any children are under 18, the court may order the grandparents to pay child support.

How to Calculate Your South Carolina Child Support Payment

Calculating child support in South Carolina is not as straightforward as you may think. The court will calculate your monthly payment based on the SC Child Support guidelines. But, your payment may vary depending on your child custody arrangements.

Child support payments must cover the cost of any children’s education, medical care, childcare, among other necessary expenses. Your income and the number of children you have will influence your monthly payment as well. You may estimate your payment using a child support estimator, but the court does not only follow general guidelines.

The court will use their worksheets to determine your monthly payment. There is a different worksheet for every custody arrangement. It is recommended that you take a look at the worksheets and basic child support obligations table schedule in the South Carolina Child Support Guidelines.

Examples of South Carolina Child Support Payments

According to the US Census, the median household income in South Carolina is $5497. The South Carolina guidelines establish a basic child support obligation average between $793 to $1628. This range applies to parents of one to six children.

For example, a non-custodial parent of three children earns $3,000 a month. The custodial parent of all three children earns $1,500 per month.

If the non-custodial parent pays $250 a month to cover any children’s health insurance. The South Carolina Child Support Guidelines suggest the parent would pay about $762.67 in child support each month.

This payment may vary if the court uses Worksheet A from their guidelines to calculate the payment. This child support payment may decrease if the parents agree to a split custody arrangement.

An example of this is when Parent A holds custody of 2 of 3 children, earns $3,000 per month and pays $250 toward their health insurance. While Parent B takes care of 1 of 3 child, earns $1,500 a month, and pays $100 toward the child’s health insurance.

In this scenario Parent A would pay only $74.10 dollars per South Carolina guidelines. The court may assign a higher or lower payment if they use Worksheet B.

Bottom Line

There is not a one size fits all formula to calculate South Carolina child support. Your monthly payment may vary depending on your circumstances or custody arrangement, among other factors.

Before any child support hearing, you should hire a family law attorney who will protect your interests. Hiring the right lawyer will help you obtain the best outcome and fair child support payment.

Is your child support payment too high? You may be eligible for a modification if you or your child’s situation endured substantial changes.

Want to learn what modifications you may request? Read our article to learn more about your eligibility.

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What to Do When Your Parents Get Divorced: A Guide for Teens

What to Do When Your Parents Get Divorced: A Guide for Teens

Divorce is never easy even for adult children.

If you are a teenager whose parents are divorced, then you may be feeling a wealth of emotions.

These emotions can make you feel isolated.

However, one of the first things you need to know is that you are not alone.

In the United States, up to half of all marriages end in divorce.  Many of these couples have children. While this is not necessarily good news, it should help you to feel less isolated. There are others who are going through exactly what you are; you can potentially find help and comfort out there to get you through this challenging time.

Here are some tips about what to do when your parents get divorced.

Get Out of the Middle

It is not your job to assist your parents with their communication. If they want to communicate, make sure that you are not the one carrying messages back and forth. This role will only serve to put you in awkward positions.

As much as possible, you should make sure that you do not take sides. Staying away from a position where you are the “go-between” is one of the best ways to do this.

It is their responsibility to learn how to communicate and create a parenting plan, not yours.

Do Not Internalize Your Feelings

Whatever turmoil you may be feeling, the worse thing you can do is keep it to yourself. Let your parents know how you are feeling.

If you are depressed, angry and sad, you need to say so, if only to remind them that you need help or additional support.

Moreover, knowing how you are feeling may be the motivation your parents need to talk to you about the divorce and make life after divorce as amicable as possible.

Talk to Friends and Family

Your close friends or other family members are often a great source of support. If you can find someone to talk to, your healing may come easier.

Resist the temptation to push people away during this difficult time.  Having a support system is therapeutic, and the relationships you have built (or will build) often become the rock you can rely on as other stones appear to crumble.

Tell your friends how you are feeling. Sometimes just hearing a comforting voice is all you need to help you find relief.

Get Professional Help

Finally, if you find that you are feeling worse rather than better every day, then it may be time toseek professional help. If thoughts of self-hatred, anger, and sadness are overwhelming you then you may need help to put your life back together.

Ask for help if you need it. Getting professional help is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign that you are ready for recovery.

Final Thoughts on What to Do When Your Parents Get Divorced

It is essential for you to remember that others have traveled the road you are on and have gotten through it. This means you can too!

Do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it and to talk about your feelings with your parents, close friends, and family.

If you would like more information about how to cope with divorce, please visit our blog. If you’re the parent of a teenager that will be affected by divorce and you are not sure how to proceed, contact us today and we will guide you through these challenging times.

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Planning Ahead: How Much Does a Divorce Cost?

Planning Ahead: How Much Does a Divorce Cost?

According to Forbes, the average cost of a divorce in the U.S. range from $15,000 to $30,000.

Of course, that’s the average.

To honestly answer the question, “how much does a divorce cost” we need to look at the factors that are involved.

Read on to learn more about the cost of a divorce and what factors affect the price you will pay.

How Much Does A Divorce Cost?

Each divorce is unique. That is why the price of a divorce can range drastically. The most significant factor is whether or not a divorce is uncontested.

Uncontested Divorce

During an uncontested divorce, both parties agree on the children’s custody, the support payments and how they will distribute their property.

Uncontested divorces do not go to trial. That means that these divorces are much faster and so the legal fees will be lower.

Contested Divorce

A contested divorce means that the couple does not agree about some aspect of the separation. Either one person does not want a divorce, or the two people cannot come to terms about the division of their assets, child support, or there is a custody battle for the children.

These divorces usually go to court and require a lengthy process with a lot of work by both attorneys. They are much more expensive than uncontested divorces.

Legal Fees

The most significant chunk of the cost of a divorce is the legal fees. Here are the varies items that fall under legal fees.

Attorney’s Time

Usually, the largest portion of your legal fees goes to pay a lawyer for his or her time.

Some lawyers will charge by the hour, but some even charge by the minute. The fee for a lawyer depends on how complicated the case is and how much experience that attorney has.

Also, which state you live in could affect the attorney’s rate. You can expect to pay anywhere from $100-$400 per hour.

Besides the time your lawyer spends working on your case, he or she may also charge you for travel time.

Appraisers

You will probably have to pay to have your assets professionally appraised. Assets include your home, any fine art, and collectibles as well as antiques.

Changes to Your Will

Most people need to change their will when they get divorced. The price of updating a will can go up a lot if the changes are complicated.

Document Copy Charges

You might be surprised to learn that you will have to pay for every copy of each document in your file. Documents include your credit card statements, your latest tax return and so on.

Expenses Related to Children

If you have children, there are several extra expenses in your divorce case.

For example, if you are your spouse cannot agree on custody arrangements, you will need a custody assessment. This assessment is completed by a health professional who determines co-parenting limits.

Some states mandate that you are your spouse take parenting courses before you can legally divorce.

Bottom Line

We hope this blog has helped you understand that the answer to the questions “how much does a divorce cost” depends on many factors.

Are you getting ready for a divorce? Read these divorce planning tips to help you prepare for a divorce.  Or reach out to us directly and we will be more than happy to help you through this challenging time.

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South Carolina Child Support Laws: 5 Things You Need to Know

With divorce and children, the result is that one parent is generally going to get the child the majority of the time. And the other parent will have to pay child support.

Of course, there are scenarios where this is not the case, such as when parents get a 50-50 times-sharing split.

Let’s take a look at some of the things you should know about child support in South Carolina.

1. How is Child Support Calculated in South Carolina?

When the judge orders child support, both parent’s incomes are calculated. SC child support guidelines consist of a formula that calculates the child support payments.

This formula includes how many children there are, the monthly income of both parents, work-related child care costs, health care expenses, whether one parent has to pay alimony to the other parent or someone else, and so on.

2. Can I Deviate from the SC Child Support Guidelines?

Yes, there are circumstances when you can deviate from the child support guidelines. Not every family has the same situation so there may be factors that can reduce the non-custodial parent’s child support obligation.

For instance, if you have education expenses, consumer debts, a disparity in income, the child works, or if you have six or more children, then you may get a lower child support obligation than you might expect due to a simple formula or standard.

3. How Long Do I Have to Pay Child Support in South Carolina?

If you’re ordered to pay child support in South Carolina, then you’ll have to pay this until the child turns 18 years old. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.

For instance, you may still have to pay until your child graduates from high school. If your child is 19 and still hasn’t graduated, then you no longer have to pay child support.

Also, if your child gets emancipated before turning 18, then you no longer have child support obligations.

But if your child is disabled, then you’ll have to continue child support even after he or she turns 18 years old.

4. What Happens if I Don’t Pay Child Support in South Carolina?

If the court orders you to pay child support and you willfully refuse to, then you can be held in contempt by the court. You may also receive fines for the other party’s court and attorney’s fees.

You can also have your license suspended and passport denied. In worst case scenarios, you can even receive jail time.

5. Can I Modify Child Support in South Carolina?

Yes, either party can request the court to modify child support to either increase or decrease the obligation. There are different situations where the judge grants one.

For instance, if you lost your job and now have a lower paying job, then you can ask for a decrease. Just be sure that you don’t quit or get fired on purpose to find lower-paying work because this can backfire on you.

Also, if you end up getting a higher paying job, then the other party can ask to increase the child support amount.

Following South Carolina Child Support Laws

If you are recently divorced or are currently going through one, then you may find the South Carolina child support laws to be a bit confusing.

This is why you should seek the counsel of a family law attorney. 

Contact us now for help!

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How Long Does Adoption Take in South Carolina?

How long does adoption take in South Carolina?  The answer to this question usually depends on the type of adoption you are seeking.

The three main types of adoptions are domestic infant adoptions, international infant adoptions, and foster care adoptions.

Read on as we examine these three adoptions. We’ll look at the steps involved and the timeframe for each style of adoption.

Domestic Infant Adoption

If you want to adopt a domestic infant in South Carolina, your wait time will largely depend on how long it takes for a birth mother to choose you.

The first step, though, is complete a background screening and home education program. This process usually takes two to three months.

You will then be ready to be matched with a birth mother. Placement of the infant will depend on how far along the birth mother is in her pregnancy.

Once the baby is placed with you, you will wait for the adoption to become finalized in court. This process usually takes about six months from the date of placement.

Domestic infant adoption takes about a year to complete. Sometimes the process can take a little longer if you were matched with a mother early in her pregnancy.

International Infant Adoption

The timeline to adopt an infant child internationally will depend on the country of the child you choose to adopt.

The first step is to submit dossier documents. These are the necessary background documents required by the country of origin. You will also likely need to complete a home study course. This process can take between two to five months.

At that point, you’ll be waiting to be matched with a birth mother. The wait time will depend on several factors, such as:

  • the age and gender of the child
  • if the child has any special needs
  • the adoption laws of the country you’re adopting from

The wait time for placement varies widely depending on the country of origin. For example, the average wait time for a child from Mexico may be three to six months.  Whereas placements from China might take much longer, maybe even four to five years wait time.

Compare the challenges of foreign adoption and international adoption to determine which is best for you.

Foster Care Adoption in South Carolina

You may wish to adopt a foster child through the South Carolina Department of Social Services.

There are over 400,000 children in foster care in the United States. 114,556 of these children cannot return to their families.

The wait time to be placed with a foster child may be faster than the other adoption types because many children in foster care are already available for adoption. After placement, the adoption still needs to be legally finalized, which can take up to six months.

Remember, the foster care system wants to reunite children with their legal parents. If you choose to adopt a foster child who is not currently available for adoption, be prepared for unpredictable wait times for placement. Ultimately, the child may also reunite with their birth parents.

This waiting period can be avoided by choosing to adopt a child whose parents have terminated their legal rights under South Carolina law. Foster parents in the state also have the right to file for termination of parental rights (TPR).

How Long Does Adoption Take to Adopt: Wrapping It Up

How long does adoption take in South Carolina? The average time is about one year, although as we have outlined, the process could take longer.

To make things go as fast as possible, it is clearly important to return documents in a timely manner and to know what is required at every step of the adoption.  These requirements and the desire to not stumble along the way is why a lot of families rely on an excellent adoption attorney for assistance.

If you are planning to adopt a child, or are working your way through the process on your own, contact us for help!

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