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Steps to Adopting Your Step-Child in Michigan

 Posted on February 21, 2024 in Family Law

MI family lawyerYour step-child already calls you “mom” or “dad,” and you are more of a parent to them than their biological other parent ever was. You would like to make the parent-child relationship official and legally adopt your step-child. In many cases, this can be done using a fairly simple and straightforward legal process. However, if your step-child’s other legal parent is still alive and has parental rights, adopting your step-child may prove far more difficult or, in some cases, impossible. Since a child in Michigan cannot have more than two legal parents, even if three or four adults all function as the child’s parents for all other intents and purposes, the only way to adopt your step-child is to sever the legal parent-child relationship between the parent who is not your spouse and your step-child. An Oakland County, MI, step-parent adoption lawyer can help you determine whether you will be able to adopt your step-child.

Severing the Parent-Child Relationship to Clear a Path to Adoption

If the child’s biological parent, who is not your spouse, has passed away, there is no further action needed. Although a deceased parent is still a parent, that parent cannot be said to retain parental rights they are unable to exercise in any way. Generally, all you will need to do to adopt your step-child in this situation is to show the other parent’s death certificate and obtain your spouse’s consent. So long as there is no legal reason you are not eligible to adopt, you can likely be approved very quickly.

If your step-child’s other parent has already lost their parental rights, your step-child only has one legal parent. Making you their second legal parent should be relatively simple as far as adoptions go.

However, if the child’s other parent still has parental rights, this may be a barrier to adoption, even if that parent is nowhere to be found and has not been a part of their child’s life for a long time. Your only option for adoption is to sever the parent-child relationship. In many cases, a biological parent who has no desire to parent their child will voluntarily relinquish their parental rights and allow the adoption to proceed. The subsequent termination of child support obligations may provide a strong incentive for them to do so.

Involuntarily terminating the other parent’s parental rights may be an uphill battle. Courts will only strip a parent of their rights if there is a very good reason for doing so, and removing that parent from the child’s life is truly in the best interests of the child.

Contact a Novi, MI, Step-parent Adoption Attorney

Elkouri Heath, PLC has helped many dedicated step-parents legally adopt their step-children. Our experienced Oakland County, MI, step-parent adoption lawyers will work to help you become your step-child's official parent. Contact us at 248-344-9700 for a complimentary consultation.

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