Ask Avvo: Can my ex-partner adopt our adult child for inheritance purposes?

Divorce, Family/Kids, Relationships

Q: I gave birth to a child by artificial insemination while I was in a same-sex relationship. The relationship ended 17 years ago when the child was five years old. My ex-partner would now like to adopt the child, who now 22-years-old, as a second parent for inheritance purposes.

We all live in South Carolina. I wonder whether second parent adoption of an adult child is actually a possibility, and whether second parent adoption can even be done in South Carolina?

A: I believe this is a still grey area of the law in South Carolina. Fortunately for your child, the day of equal protection under the law may be soon around the corner. In the meantime, and as a primary measure, I would suggest reviewing all estate planning documents and doing as much as possible to secure inheritance by way of private planning documents such as will or trust.

Whether these documents could achieve the objective sought really depends on the particular circumstances. In no circumstance would I advise using a form will or drafting one without legal guidance, but [especially not with your case].

If your former partner wanted to pursue legal adoption as a same sex parent, it might be a really fun test case for a lawyer who took an interest in these issues. The bad news is, test cases are not cheap, and winning is not always guaranteed …

Without pro bono assistance, it’s possible for the cost of litigating a case through an appeal to equal the cost of a small inheritance. Thus, as a matter of risk / cost management, the first strategy should be to take care of this through good estate planning, if possible.

I am also attaching a link to the web site for Lambda Legal, an advocacy group for LGBTQ folk.

— Family Law attorney Alexandra Skinner

This Q&A was originally posted in Avvo’s Q&A Forum.

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