Fathers’ Rights’ In Adoption Training



The goal of this session is to teach practitioners about state-specific law regarding nonmarital paternity, parental rights, and adoption in relation to the Responsible Father Registry in South Carolina. This panel will teach attendees of the difference between biological and parental status, and also the importance of financial support as a demonstration of parental involvement. While covering fundamental paternity rulings issued by the Supreme Court of the United States, this panel will also cover rulings in South Carolina to demonstrate outcomes from various factual scenarios.

A highlight of this session is focus on the Responsible Father Registry (RFR), enacted in 2009, which permits potential fathers of children born in South Carolina to file for notice in the event of an adoption action or a termination of parental rights. Commonly known as “putative father registries” in other states, the RFR was created in South Carolina as a basis for notifying nonmarital potential fathers who may take interest in the status of a child. While the responsible father registry is not well known in South Carolina—as is true for other states—it is crucial that practitioners in the state are aware of its existence for both biological fathers and adoptive parents.



Kevin Maillard is Professor of Law at Syracuse University, where he teaches Family Law, Wills & Trusts, and Adoption Law. He is a contributor to the New York Times and The Atlantic. He is the author of the feature article, “A Father’s Struggle to Stop His Daughter’s Adoption,” focusing on adoption law and ethical practices in South Carolina.

Marcia Zug is a tenured Professor of Law at the University of South Carolina School of Law. Her specialty areas are Family Law, Advanced Family Law, and American Indian Law. Professor Zug’s research focuses on the intersection of family law and immigration law and she recently published a book entitled Buying a Bride: An Engaging History of Mail-Order Matches. Professor Zug has been quoted in numerous media outlets such as The Associated Press, CNN.com, The Guardian, and BBC Radio.

James Fletcher Thompson has an extensive South Carolina practice involving children’s law including child custody, termination of parental rights and foster parent rights, including the law of assisted reproductive technologies and surrogacy. A Fellow of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys since 1993, he served on the Academy’s Board of Trustees from 2011-2015. He is the principal drafter of the Responsible Father Registry, which was enacted into South Carolina law in 2009.

Jennifer Mook is a Family Law attorney based in Aiken. A member of the Greenville, Aiken, and South Carolina Bar Associations, she represents clients in all types of domestic or family court cases all over the State. She is also frequently appointed by the court to serve as a Guardian ad Litem to represent the independent interests of minor children.

Christopher Emanuel is the Director of the Sky Is The Limit Foundation, a 501(c) 3 tax exempt non-profit dedicated to educating, empowering and equipping nonmarital fathers in South Carolina. He advocates for the rights of putative fathers and organizes community awareness of the Responsible Father Registry.