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Stepparent Adoption

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Stepparent Adoption 

Being a stepparent is a vital and special role in a child’s life. Some stepparents come to the decision with their partner that the best option for them is stepparent adoption.

In a stepparent adoption, a stepparent adopts the child of their current spouse. In this process, the stepparent and their spouse jointly file the Petition for Adoption. A stepparent adoption is permanent. If you and your partner divorce, the stepparent continues to be a legal parent to the adopted child.

Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights

In Michigan, stepparent adoption requires the termination of parental rights by the noncustodial biological parent. This can be accomplished in one of two ways. The noncustodial biological parent may voluntarily relinquish their parental rights by consenting to the adoption. In that event, the noncustodial biological parent must appear in court and a judge confirms that consent is given voluntarily in accordance with the law. Thereafter, an order is entered that places the child with the stepparent and biological custodial parent pending the final order of adoption.

Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

If the noncustodial biological parent does not respond to the notice, a stepparent adoption can be complex. In this scenario, the stepparent must file an additional petition requesting the involuntary termination of the noncustodial biological parent’s rights. The noncustodial biological parent must also be properly served with notice that the petition has been filed. The noncustodial biological parent then has to be given time to respond to the notice. If the parent does not respond to the notice the adoption process can go forward, if the parent does respond then a hearing will be held in front of a judge.

The circumstances in which a court will involuntarily terminate the parental rights of the noncustodial biological parent are very limited. For involuntary termination, the stepparent, with the help from our experienced attorneys, must prove that (1) the noncustodial biological parent, despite having the ability to do so, has failed to pay child support and (2) the noncustodial biological parent has failed to communicate with the child substantially and regularly for at least two years. Furthermore, the stepparent must show that involuntary termination is warranted by clear and convincing evidence, which is a high legal standard. 

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