South Carolina General Assembly
122nd Session, 2017-2018

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H. 3442

STATUS INFORMATION

General Bill
Sponsors: Reps. Delleney, Felder, Pope, Martin, Norrell, B. Newton, Simrill, Norman, Thayer, Putnam, Clary, Hamilton, Yow, W. Newton, Kirby, Erickson, Knight, Hixon, Elliott, Henderson, Bedingfield, V.S. Moss, Wheeler, Ballentine, King, Henegan and West
Document Path: l:\council\bills\cc\15052vr17.docx

Introduced in the House on January 12, 2017
Introduced in the Senate on February 7, 2017
Currently residing in the Senate

Summary: Adoption

HISTORY OF LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS

     Date      Body   Action Description with journal page number
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
   1/12/2017  House   Introduced and read first time (House Journal-page 422)
   1/12/2017  House   Referred to Committee on Judiciary 
                        (House Journal-page 422)
   1/24/2017  House   Member(s) request name added as sponsor: Putnam, Clary, 
                        Hamilton, Yow, W.Newton, Kirby, Erickson
   1/25/2017  House   Member(s) request name added as sponsor: Knight, Hixon, 
                        Elliott, Henderson
   1/25/2017  House   Committee report: Favorable Judiciary 
                        (House Journal-page 6)
   1/26/2017  House   Member(s) request name added as sponsor: Bedingfield, 
                        V.S.Moss
   1/31/2017  House   Member(s) request name added as sponsor: Wheeler
   1/31/2017  House   Debate adjourned until Wed., 2-1-17 
                        (House Journal-page 28)
    2/1/2017  House   Member(s) request name added as sponsor: Ballentine, 
                        King, Henegan, West
    2/1/2017  House   Read second time (House Journal-page 17)
    2/1/2017  House   Roll call Yeas-103  Nays-0 (House Journal-page 17)
    2/2/2017  House   Read third time and sent to Senate 
                        (House Journal-page 24)
    2/7/2017  Senate  Introduced and read first time (Senate Journal-page 13)
    2/7/2017  Senate  Referred to Committee on Judiciary 
                        (Senate Journal-page 13)
    4/6/2017  Senate  Referred to Subcommittee: Massey (ch), McElveen, Senn
    5/3/2017  Senate  Committee report: Favorable with amendment Judiciary 
                        (Senate Journal-page 15)
    5/5/2017          Scrivener's error corrected
    5/9/2017  Senate  Read second time (Senate Journal-page 47)

View the latest legislative information at the website

VERSIONS OF THIS BILL

1/12/2017
1/25/2017
5/3/2017
5/5/2017

(Text matches printed bills. Document has been reformatted to meet World Wide Web specifications.)

Indicates Matter Stricken

Indicates New Matter

COMMITTEE REPORT

May 3, 2017

H. 3442

Introduced by Reps. Delleney, Felder, Pope, Martin, Norrell, B. Newton, Simrill, Norman, Thayer, Putnam, Clary, Hamilton, Yow, W. Newton, Kirby, Erickson, Knight, Hixon, Elliott, Henderson, Bedingfield, V.S. Moss, Wheeler, Ballentine, King, Henegan and West

S. Printed 5/3/17--S.    [SEC 5/5/17 2:49 PM]

Read the first time February 7, 2017.

            

THE COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY

To whom was referred a Bill (H. 3442) to amend Section 63-9-60, as amended, Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, relating to individuals who may adopt a child, so as to, etc., respectfully

REPORT:

That they have duly and carefully considered the same and recommend that the same do pass with amendment:

Amend the bill, as and if amended, page 2, by striking lines 1 through 33, in Section 63-9-60(B), as contained in SECTION 1, and inserting therein the following:

/        (B)(1)    Placement of children for adoption pursuant to this article is limited to South Carolina residents with exceptions being made Any nonresident of South Carolina may petition the court to adopt a child in the following circumstances only:

(a)    the child is a special needs child, as defined by Section 63-9-30;

(b)    there has been public notoriety concerning the child or child's family, and the best interests of the child would be served by placement outside this State;

(c)(b)    the child is to be placed for adoption with a relative related biologically or by marriage;

(d)(c)    at least one of the adoptive parents is in the military service stationed in South Carolina;

(e)(d)    there are unusual or exceptional circumstances such that the best interests of the child would be served by placement with or adoption by nonresidents of this State; or

(f)(e)    the child has been in foster care for at least six months after having been legally freed for adoption and no South Carolina resident has been identified as a prospective adoptive home;

(f)    all persons required to give consent to the adoption pursuant to Section 63-9-310 have specifically consented to the adoption by the nonresident; or

(g)    the department or any agency under contract with the department has placed the child with the nonresident for purposes of adoption.

(2)    A person who files a petition pursuant to subsections (A) and (B) shall not use public notoriety concerning a child or child's family to support or to evidence his petition to adopt a child.

(2)(3)    Before a child is placed within or outside the boundaries of this State for adoption with nonresidents of this State, compliance with Article 11 (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children) is required, and a judicial determination must be made in this State that one of the circumstances in items (a) through (f) of subsection (A)(1) subsection (B)(1)(a)-(g) applies, whether or not the adoption proceedings are instituted in this State. Additionally, in order to determine if any of the circumstances in items (a) through (f) of subsection (A)(1) subsection (B)(1)(a)-(g) apply so as to permit    /

Amend the bill further, as and if amended, page 3, by striking lines 19 through 23, in Section 63-9-60(C), as contained in SECTION 1, and inserting therein the following:

/        (C)    A petition for adoption of a child may be filed pursuant to this section regardless of which individual or entity has custody of the child. When the department has custody of a child, the rights granted herein to South Carolina residents and nonresidents shall not be diminished, invalidated, or negatively affected in any way except that no person shall have standing to petition the court to adopt unless the person has the necessary consents or relinquishments for purposes of adoption required pursuant to Section 63-9-310 and 63-9-320."        /

Amend the bill further, as and if amended, page 3, after line 32 by inserting an appropriately numbered new SECTION to read:

/        SECTION__.    Section 63-9-1110(5) of the 1976 Code, as last amended by Act 160 of 2010, is amended to read:

"(5)    upon good cause shown, the court may waive the requirement, pursuant to Section 63-9-60(A)(2) 63-9-60(B)(3), that the adoption proceeding must be finalized in this State."        /

Renumber sections to conform.

Amend title to conform.

A. SHANE MASSEY for Committee.

            

STATEMENT OF ESTIMATED FISCAL IMPACT

Explanation of Fiscal Impact

Introduced on January 12, 2017

State Expenditure

This bill adds to the list of exemptions that would allow a nonresident of South Carolina to petition to adopt a child. The exemptions include situations where a parent has specifically consented to the adoption by a nonresident and the Department of Social Services or any agency under contract with DSS has placed the child with the nonresident for purposes of adoption. Family court must make and include in its order specific findings of fact as to the circumstances allowing a child's placement for adoption by a nonresident.

In addition, the bill provides a petition for adoption may be filed regardless of which individual or entity has custody of a child. The rights of South Carolina residents and nonresidents to petition for adoption are not diminished or negated when DSS has custody.

Department of Social Services. DSS indicates that the repeal of Section 63-9-60(B), as proposed by this bill, would allow parties to file a petition for the adoption of a child placed for adoption by DSS or any agency under contract with DSS. Current statute and court rulings have found that parties, such as foster parents or nonresidents, do not have standing to file a petition action. These additional petitions would increase the workload of DSS attorneys in evaluating and responding to these legal proceedings. Based on a 50 percent increase in adoption petitions, DSS estimates a 25 percent increase in the number of attorneys would be necessary to meet the increased legal caseload. Presently, there are 61 FTE attorney positions at DSS. A 25 percent increase would represent 15 new attorney FTE positions requiring 5 paralegal positions for legal casework support. These 20 FTEs would increase total expenditures by $1,675,245 in FY 2017-18 to include salaries, employee fringe, and other operating expenses estimated at 16 percent of salaries and employer fringe. Of this total, $597,225 would be general fund expenditures and $1,078,020 would be federal funds expenditures.

Judicial Department. The bill allows additional circumstances where a nonresident of South Carolina may adopt a child. There are no data available to estimate the number of additional hearings that may be held in family court, but the number is not expected to be significant. Therefore, the department anticipates managing any additional hearings within current resources. If the number of additional hearings does increase significantly, the result could be a backlog of cases in family court.

Frank A. Rainwater, Executive Director

Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office

A BILL

TO AMEND SECTION 63-9-60, AS AMENDED, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO INDIVIDUALS WHO MAY ADOPT A CHILD, SO AS TO ADD CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH A NONRESIDENT MAY ADOPT AND TO PROVIDE FOR THE RIGHT TO FILE A PETITION FOR ADOPTION; AND TO AMEND SECTION 63-9-750, RELATING TO ADOPTION HEARINGS, SO AS TO MAKE TECHNICAL CORRECTIONS.

Whereas, recent South Carolina court opinions have so interpreted the meaning of Section 63-9-60 as to deny residents of this State standing to bring or maintain an action for the adoption of any child in the temporary custody of the Department of Social Services; and

Whereas the General Assembly by this act wishes to reassert its legislative intent with regard to the adoption of children in this State by residents of South Carolina only, except in unusual or exceptional circumstances, to affirm the right of residents of South Carolina to bring actions for the adoption of children in the temporary custody of the department, and to correct the typographical error in the cross-reference in Section 63-9-750. Now, therefore,

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

SECTION    1.    Section 63-9-60 of the 1976 Code, as last amended by Act 160 of 2010, is further amended to read:

"Section 63-9-60.    (A)(1)    Any South Carolina resident may petition the court to adopt a child.

(B)(1)    Placement of children for adoption pursuant to this article is limited to South Carolina residents with exceptions being made Any nonresident of South Carolina may petition the court to adopt a child in the following circumstances only:

(a)    the child is a special needs child, as defined by Section 63-9-30;

(b)    there has been public notoriety concerning the child or child's family, and the best interests of the child would be served by placement outside this State;

(c)    the child is to be placed for adoption with a relative related biologically or by marriage;

(d)    at least one of the adoptive parents is in the military service stationed in South Carolina;

(e)    there are unusual or exceptional circumstances such that the best interests of the child would be served by placement with or adoption by nonresidents of this State; or

(f)    the child has been in foster care for at least six months after having been legally freed for adoption and no South Carolina resident has been identified as a prospective adoptive home;

(g)    a parent has specifically consented to the adoption by the nonresident; or

(h)    the department or any agency under contract with the department has placed the child with the nonresident for purposes of adoption.

(2)    Before a child is placed within or outside the boundaries of this State for adoption with nonresidents of this State, compliance with Article 11 (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children) is required, and a judicial determination must be made in this State that one of the circumstances in items (a) through (f) of subsection (A)(1) subsection (B)(1)(a)-(h) applies, whether or not the adoption proceedings are instituted in this State. Additionally, in order to determine if any of the circumstances in items (a) through (f) of subsection (A)(1) subsection (B)(1)(a)-(h) apply so as to permit placement with a nonresident for the purpose of adoption or adoption by a nonresident, a petition may be brought for the determination before the birth of the child or before placement of the child with the prospective adoptive parents. In ruling on this question the court must include in its order specific findings of fact as to the circumstances allowing the placement of a child with a nonresident or the adoption of a child by a nonresident. The court also must analyze the facts against the objective criteria established in Sections 16-3-1060 and 63-9-310(F) and make specific findings in accordance with the pertinent law and evidence presented. The order resulting from this action does not prohibit or waive the right to refuse to consent to a release of rights or relinquish rights at a later time or to withdraw a consent or relinquish at a later time as provided in this article. The order must be merged with and made a part of any subsequent adoption proceeding, which must be initiated and finalized in this State.

(B) This section does not apply to a child placed by the State Department of Social Services or any agency under contract with the department for purposes of placing that child for adoption.

(3)    Neither the department nor its contractors may delay or deny the placement of a child for adoption by a nonresident if that nonresident has been approved for adoption of the child by another state authorized to approve such placements pursuant to the Interstate Compact on Placement of Children. The department shall provide an opportunity for a hearing, in accordance with the department's fair hearing procedures, to a nonresident who believes that the department, in violation of this section, has delayed or denied placement of a child for adoption.

(C)    A petition for adoption of a child may be filed pursuant to this section regardless of which individual or entity has custody of the child. When the department has custody of a child, the rights granted herein to South Carolina residents and nonresidents shall not be diminished, invalidated or negatively affected in any way."

SECTION    2.    Section 63-9-750(B)(7) of the 1976 Code is amended to read:

"(7)    if the petitioner is a nonresident of this State, the findings pursuant to Section 63-9-50 63-9-60(B) are included in the order, and there has been compliance with Article 11 (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children)."

SECTION    3.    This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.

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