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Step Parent

4 Questions Every Step-Parent Should Ask Before Adopting in Michigan

If you’re a step-parent, one of your dreams is to adopt your step-child. The process of adopting a step-child in Michigan can be complex, however, so you always need to have a clear idea of what you can expect. To get started, consider some of the most crucial questions you need to ask before making this big decision.

1. What Are the Requirements for Adopting a Step-Child in Michigan?

The first criterion that needs to be met is the child’s biological parents have to be divorced, or they must never have been married. You must also be married to one of the biological parents, and you must have taken on a parenting role. If you’re living with one of the parents but aren’t married, the state doesn’t consider you a step-parent.

Something you don’t have to worry about is a time limit. You can adopt a step-child no matter how long you’ve been married to one of their parents, be it three months or three years.

Perhaps the trickiest part is ensuring the other parent’s parental rights have been terminated. You can’t adopt unless one of the parents no longer has parental rights.

2. How Does Termination of Parental Rights Occur?

The simplest way to terminate parental rights is for the other parent to give up their rights voluntarily. To do so, they must attend a hearing and sign paperwork giving up those rights in front of a judge.

However, it doesn’t always happen that way. Often, the other parent refuses to cooperate, which means a judge has to resolve the issue.

If the parent has failed to provide substantial financial support to the child for two years or hasn’t had significant contact with the child in two years despite having the means to do so, their rights can be involuntarily terminated.

3. What if the Child Is Over 14 Years Old?

A step-child who’s over 14 years of age will need to agree to the adoption. They can do this by signing a Consent to Adoption by Adoptee form. Children who are younger than 14 don’t need to offer their consent.

4. How Long Will the Process Take?

Each case is unique and can present its own challenges. If the adoption is uncontested, the other parent is willing to give up their parental rights, the process can take about three months. Contested adoptions, however, can take much longer.

Get Help From Family Lawyers

Adopting a step-child can be a beautiful thing to do for the whole family, but it’s not something you want to attempt without the help of a lawyer — especially if the other parent doesn’t want to give up their parental rights. With a lawyer by your side, you’ll have the guidance you need.

At Gucciardo Family Law, we offer the services you require to achieve your family goals. Call us to speak with an experienced family lawyer.

Too much information?

We focus exclusively on family law matters so we are always available to answer your questions and help.

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