What Parental Rights Do Stepparents Have in Michigan?
When a person marries a child’s biological parent, they do not automatically gain parental rights. In addition to this, divorce does not terminate the rights of a child’s biological parents. If a child’s parents get divorced, they still retain full legal and physical custody of the child.
Undoubtedly, stepparents influence the lives of their stepchildren. But Michigan state law does not recognize them as having parental rights. This is true even if they assist the biological parent with the duties of raising the child.
Stepparents are not barred from obtaining parental rights. But marriage to the child’s biological parent does not confer those rights.
When Can Stepparents Gain Parental Rights?
For stepparents who wish to gain parental rights, the most common option is adoption. Adopting a stepchild will often resolve issues related to parental rights. However, the adoption process is very complex.
Because of this, it is important to speak with a qualified family attorney. Having an experienced legal representative can help you to secure parental rights in your particular circumstance. There are a few different types of stepparent adoptions in Michigan.
Uncontested Stepparent Adoptions
Some adoptions involve significant disputes and disagreements, others do not. In cases where all parties agree to the adoption, gaining parental rights over a stepchild is much easier.
When the adoption is uncontested, the child’s other biological parent can willingly terminate their parental rights. Then, the court can approve the child’s adoption by the stepparent.
In cases involving a child that is at least 14 years old, the child must consent to the adoption.
Contested Stepparent Adoptions in Michigan
When the child’s other biological parent contests the adoption, the process becomes more complicated. This can increase the difficulty and complexity of a stepparent gaining parental rights.
Under Michigan state law, contested adoptions require the other biological parent to forego their parental rights. The stepparent, in these cases, must request that the courts terminate the rights of the other parent. This is a significant request and certain criteria must be met.
The judge overseeing the case will examine the circumstances surrounding the biological parent in question. The court will consider whether the parent has failed to do the following things for at least two years:
- Provide regular support to the child
- Maintain regular visitation or communication with the child
If they have neglected to communicate with and provide for the child, the court may be inclined to terminate their parental rights.
Whether the adoption is contested or not, the stepparent will need the help of a legal professional. In order to secure parental rights over a stepchild, it is best to consult with a family attorney.
Contact a Skilled Family Lawyer
To explore various options for gaining parental rights over a stepchild, contact the legal team at Gucciardo Family Law. Our expert legal team has years of experience with family law and stepparent adoptions. This particular type of adoption can be complicated, especially if it is contested.
Our team of legal professionals will work hard for you and your family. Contact the premier team at Gucciardo Family Law to schedule your free initial consultation.
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