Stepparent adoption is the most common form of adoption in the United States. It is an excellent way to legally unite a blended family and provide everyone with security. Typically, in a stepparent adoption, the children’s biological parents are divorced or the parents were never married but the birth father does acknowledge paternity. The ex-husband rarely sees the children and provided little child support for the last two years.
In this case the mother is the custodial parent and the ex-husband/father is the non-custodial parent. The woman remarries and the new spouse or step-father along with the custodial parent petition to adopt the children. The non-custodial parent can either agree to the adoption or the parental rights of the non-custodial father or mother can be terminated. That involuntary termination takes place when the court determines that the non-custodial parent has not lived up to his or her responsibilities regarding parenting time and child support.
Michigan law states that:
If having the ability to support, the parent has failed or neglected to provide regular and substantial support for the child or has failed to substantially comply with a court ordered support for a period of two years or more, and
If a parent having the ability to visit has failed, or neglected to visit or communicate with the child for a period of two years or more” the parental rights of such parent can be terminated by the courts. A child over the age of 14 must give consent to the adoption.
Once the petition for adoption is filed, the court investigates the best interests of the child. This report is usually made by an agent of the court, a child placing agency or the Friend of the Court or Family Independence Agency. The adoption process can take up to a year after the order terminating the parental rights of the biological parent. In most cases, however, the court waives the 1-year period if it is in the best interest of the child.
The law offices of Judith H. Blumeno have represented clients in stepparent adoptions in which the biological parent willingly agrees to the proposed plan. We have also represented adoption when the consent of the other parent is not required due to lack of contact or support. In cases in which the other parent does not consent to the termination of parental rights, we investigate the role the other parent has played in the child’s life financially and in parenting time. Is there justifiable cause for his or her lack of support or communication?
Prior to finalization of the adoption, it is usually required for adoptive parents to have a home study and background check through an approved social service agency. The child or children must be interviewed by social workers as part of the process. Children are usually expected to attend court to have the adoption finalized. The process is usually considered worth the time and the effort by the adoptive parents because of the stability of a 2-parent family it provides to the children.