Stepparent Adoption in Michigan: The Pros and Cons
Stepparent adoption in Michigan is a legal process that grants you parental rights to the biological child of your spouse.
This process can be helpful when the child’s biological parents no longer share custody or were never married, and you want to become a legal parent under Michigan law.
Adoption in Michigan is permanent, and the other parent will lose custody and visitation rights when a judge grants the petition. Additionally, adoption absolves the previous parents of child support and any legal responsibilities to the child.
If you are considering adopting your stepchild in Michigan, it is important to understand the basics of the legal process involved.
How to Adopt a Stepchild in Michigan
The process of adopting a stepchild in Michigan begins with both biological parents agreeing to the formal request.
A parent may voluntarily terminate their parental rights in family court. Otherwise, you will need to file a petition for involuntary termination.
In some cases, courts may waive involuntary termination if there’s evidence that a parent has abandoned the child for a minimum of 24 months. Additionally, some jurisdictions in Michigan may require you to have been married for at least one year before petitioning for adoption.
There are several pros and cons to consider when adopting your stepchild in Michigan.
Pros to Stepparent Adoption
If you want to become the legal parent of your stepchild, you’ll be able to enjoy several benefits, including:
- Making legal, academic, and care decisions
- Parental security
- Full custody rights
- Peace of mind
- Inheritance and estate rights
Adopting a child not only gives you a heightened sense of love and belonging, but becoming a legal parent also grants you all the legal rights of a biological parent.
In the event of a divorce down the road, you’ll be given custody and visitation rights. You can also participate in decision-making. When you don’t adopt a stepchild, you have no protection to these rights after a divorce.
Cons to Stepparent Adoption
When a child’s parent does not want to give up parental rights, the process can become more difficult. You’ll have to petition the court for involuntary termination.
A judge will terminate parental rights only if the parent has:
- Failed to support the child financially for at least two years
- Not visited or contacted the child for at least two years
- Failed to provide financial support and see the child in the past two years despite the ability to do so
Each of these conditions must be satisfied to terminate parental rights. As a petitioner, you must provide the court with clear and convincing evidence that termination of rights is justified and necessary. Otherwise, you risk the petition being denied.
Additionally, because courts grant full parental rights in an adoption, you will have financial obligations such as paying child support if you ever divorce. Failure to do so can land you in serious legal trouble.
Do I Need an Attorney to Adopt My Stepchild?
Hiring qualified legal representation can make the adoption process in Michigan easier and help you achieve the desired result quickly.
Gucciardo Family Law represents adoption cases throughout Oakland County. Call us today for a free consultation.
Too much information?
We focus exclusively on family law matters so we are always available to answer your questions and help.