At the offices of family law attorney Lisa Stern in Michigan, we know that stepparent adoption can be a great benefit to everyone in a blended family. When you adopt your spouse’s children from a previous relationship, you are showing them how much you love them and that you want to be their forever parent. In addition, becoming the other legal parent of your spouse’s children gives you all the rights and privileges of biological parenthood, making it easier for you to participate in the medical, educational, religious and social decisions so crucial in their lives.
Stepparent adoption is a fairly simple court process in Michigan assuming that the biological parent losing his or her legal rights to the child(ren) voluntarily gives up those rights by consenting to the adoption. Once you file the adoption petition, the court schedules a hearing date when you, your spouse and the other biological parent must be present. The judge likely will ask the other biological parent if the decision to relinquish his or her parental rights is in fact voluntary. If the children being adopted are 14 years of age or older, they, too, must be present in court and the judge will ask them for their consent to the adoption.
Involuntary termination of parental rights
If the other biological parent refuses to consent to the adoption and relinquish his or her parental rights, all is not lost. Things do, however, become more complicated.
As the Michigan Legal Help Program explains, you will need to present clear and convincing evidence in court as to why the judge should terminate the other parent’s parental rights to the children. Such evidence must encompass all three of the following:
- He or she has failed to financially support the child(ren) for the past two years.
- He or she has failed to contact or visit the child(ren) for the past two years.
- He or she had the ability not only to support, but also to contact or visit the child(ren) during this period.
For more information on this subject, please visit this page on our website.