After you and your spouse have decided that adopting your stepchild is something that will benefit the entire family, it is time to consider the legal process.
According to the Michigan Judicial Institute, your stepparent adoption will not have the same procedures as another type of adoption.
The child’s consent
While it is a good idea to talk to your stepchild about what the adoption means to him or her in terms that are age-appropriate, you only need permission if your stepchild is over 14 years old. The court will not enter the order of adoption if your stepchild does not provide consent.
Termination of parental rights
The other parent must either provide consent and voluntarily give up parental rights, or the court must terminate his or her rights. Before the court accepts voluntary consent, it must find that the act truly is voluntary, that the parent has the right to provide consent and that termination of the parent’s rights is in the best interests of your stepchild.
The court will terminate the parent’s rights if he or she has the ability to provide support but refuses or violates a court order to support the child in the two years before you file the petition. In addition, during that two years, the parent also has not visited or communicated with your stepchild, even though he or she had the ability to do so. You have the burden of proof to show that the parent’s actions warrant termination.
You will need to provide information to the investigator who the judge assigns to your case. He or she will review all the information and submit a report to the judge.
At the hearing, the termination of the other parent’s rights becomes final, the judge reviews the investigator’s report and evaluates the best interests of the child. Whether the adoption becomes final at this point depends on the ruling regarding the termination of rights.
Adoptions of all kinds are usually a joyous legal matter for families. If you are interested in learning more about a stepparent adoption, please contact our office to schedule a consultation.