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How Can I Legally Adopt My Stepchild in Michigan?

Posted on in Family Law

Novi Adoption LawyersCountless studies show that children thrive with the love and support of two parents. However, sometimes, those parents are not related to the child by blood. Stepparents often play a crucial role in a child’s life. However, stepparents do not have the same legal rights and protections as biological parents unless they legally adopt the child.

If you are a stepparent who would like to adopt your stepchild, read on to learn about the stepparent adoption requirements and procedures in Michigan.

Terminating the Biological Parent’s Parental Rights

Children can only have two parents by law. This means that you may need to get a parent’s parental rights terminated before you can adopt your stepchild. Some parents voluntarily agree to give up their parental rights – especially if they recognize that the stepparent is in a better place to care for their child. Other parents refuse to surrender their parental rights. If the child’s biological parent does not want to give up his or her rights to allow you to adopt the child, you will need to attend a hearing and provide sufficient reasoning for the termination of the parent’s rights.  

Michigan judges only terminate a biological parent’s parental rights if each of the following statements is true:

  • The spouse of the petitioner (the stepparent who is pursuing adoption) currently has sole or joint legal custody of the child.
  • The biological parent has not supported the child financially for at least two years despite having the means to do so.
  • The biological parent has not regularly visited the child in at least two years despite having the means to do so.
  • If the child is 14 years of age or older, he or she must also consent to the adoption.

Court Procedure for Stepparent Adoption

Once a stepparent files the petition, a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) investigator will interview the parents, gather information, and write up a formal report with a recommendation to the judge.  

If the child’s biological parent consents to the stepparent adoption and agrees to give up his or her parental rights, he or she will need to confirm this decision with the court. The parent does this by appearing in court and stating his or her consent and signing the required paperwork.

If the child’s biological parent contests the adoption, the petitioner (or the petitioner's attorney) will need to show clear and convincing evidence that termination of the biological parent’s rights and stepparent adoption is in the child’s best interest.

Contact a Novi Adoption Lawyer

If you want to adopt your child, contact the Oakland County adoption attorneys at Elkouri Heath, PLC for help. Call 248-344-9700 for a confidential consultation.

 

Sources:

https://www.oakgov.com/courts/circuit/Documents/adoption-forms/ad-stepparent-requirements.pdf

Oakland County Bar Association State Bar of Michigan Collaborative Practice Institute of Michigan WCCDBA Woman Lawyers Association of Michigan
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