The adoption statute allows a step-parent to adopt a child without changing the child’s legal relationship with the biological parent. Therefore, in a step-parent adoption, unless the court order states otherwise, parental rights of the non-­adopting spouse are not affected. Even so, a step-parent adoption has significant legal implications inasmuch as the birth parent’s rights are now shared with the spouse as the adopting parent. If they were to separate or divorce, the court could look to either parent for custody or support of the child. No legal preference would be given to the birth parent over the adopting parent.

The adoption code also dispenses with many of the formalities and requirements of other adoptions. For instance, no accounting of disbursements is required to be presented to the court; no investigation (pre­placement or post­placement) report is required; a medical and social history (child report) is not required. Therefore, the expense associated with an adoption by a step-parent is often less than an adoption by an unrelated third party parent.

Many step-parent adoptions are eligible to receive up to $1,500.00 for non­recurring costs associated with the adoption from the State of South Carolina.