Michigan Laws and Facts Regarding Step-Parent Adoptions

Families in Michigan come in many different shapes and sizes. When couples with children divorce and remarry, a stepparent may play a significant role in the life of a child. While not every stepparent adopts a stepchild, many want to take on the full parental role. If you are a step parent and are considering adopting your stepchild, contact us, experienced step parent adoption attorneys  for help with the legal steps involved in the adoption process. At Goetting Corrado Law Group, PC, our lawyers have extensive experience and knowledge about how to properly handle step parent adoption cases in the state of Michigan and know adopting under any circumstance is an exciting and important time in the life of both the child and the parent.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the requirements for a step-parent adoption?

A:       You must be married for a year (it may be less under certain circumstances) and you must have at least joint custody of the child.  In addition, the biological father must consent to the adoption or have a court terminate his rights.

Q: What if the legal (on the child's birth certificate) father refuses to consent?

A:     A father’s rights can be terminated two ways:  by consent or court order.  If the biological father refuses to consent and there is a child support order entered, then a separate termination hearing can be held in which you must prove that the father has not substantially complied with the child support in the two years prior to filing.  In addition, the father must have had the ability but failed to substantially see the child during the previous two years.  If there is no support order in place, than you must show the court that the father has not substantially support or communicated with the child in the past two years.

Q: What if the father is unknown or not listed on the birth certificate?

A:   If the biological father is unknown or not listed on the birth certificate then the legal term for the father is “putative father.”   To terminated a putative father’s rights, a hearing must be held in which the birth mother states on the record who the putative father is, if known.  The putative father must be provide notice of the hearing.  If he fails to attend the hearing, most likely his rights will be terminated.  Alternatively, he may sign and mail in a specific form stating he is not interested in attending the hearing and consents to his rights being terminated.

Q: Can I change my child's name?

A:   A new birth certificate will be issued by the State of Michigan after the adoption is finalized.  That birth certificate will resemble the child’s original birth certificate, with the only difference being the adoptive parent’s name will be listed as the parent.  At the time of the adoption, the adoptee’s name can be changed if you so choose, and the new birth certificate will reflect the name change.

Q: How long does it take for a step-parent adoption?

A:   A step-parent adoption usually takes between three to six months, depending on whether the birth parent consents to the termination of his or her parental rights.

Q: Do we have to have a homestudy done?

A:  Homestudies are not needed for step-parent adoptions.  However, a background check will be done and you must be cleared with the Central Registry to have an approved adoption.

Q: What if my child is almost 18 years old?

A:  A child can be adopted up to the age of 18 but must provide consent after the age of 14.  If the child is 18 years or older, he or she may still be adopted, it is just considered an “Adult” adoption.

Q: Does the custodial parent have to have sole custody for the child to be adopted?

A:        No. The State of Michigan’s law has continued to vary on this issue but as of now, the custodial parent does not have to have sole custody for the child to be adopted.

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