Michigan adoptions can be full of long processes and requirements, yet when adopting your stepchild, the process is not always that extensive. Many stepparents fall in love with their stepchildren and wish to adopt them as their own. So how do you adopt your stepchild in Michigan?
To adopt a stepchild in Michigan, the stepparent wishing to adopt must obtain stepchild adoption court forms, often available at the local courthouse, or may be purchased online from a court form service. If the biological parent is contest the adoption, then hiring a lawyer is strongly encouraged.
For a number of reasons, a stepparent in Michigan may wish to adopt their stepchild, including:
- Adoption gives the stepparent the legal rights and obligations of parenthood, including the authority to decide on the welfare of the child and to provide their necessities and emotional requirements.
- Adoption can strengthen the emotional connection between the stepparent and child and give them a sense of permanence and security.
- The rights of the biological parent can be terminated by adoption, which may be essential in situations of abandonment, abuse, or neglect.
- Legal advantages: The child may have legal advantages as a result of the adoption, including inheritance rights and access to the stepparent’s health and life insurance coverage.
- If the biological parent is prepared to relinquish their rights, the legal process may be less difficult than guardianship.
How to Adopt a Stepchild in Michigan
To adopt your stepchild in Michigan you can either hire a lawyer, visit your local courthouse and ask if they provide stepchild adoption court form packets, or purchase court forms through a service that specializes in stepchild adoption court forms.
Hire an Adoption Lawyer
Although it is not necessary to hire a lawyer to adopt a stepchild in Michigan, it is something to think about. A lawyer should be consulted if you anticipate that the biological parent may not approve of the adoption.
A lawyer can represent you in court at the adoption hearing and can help you prepare the relevant legal paperwork, such as the adoption petition and permission forms.
If necessary, they can also help you through the procedure of removing the biological parent’s rights.
A lawyer can also provide direction on how to handle any potential legal concerns that might crop up during the adoption process, such as disagreements over custody or visitation.
Even if hiring a lawyer is not essential, it is important to remember that not seeking legal assistance can raise the likelihood of mistakes, delays, or other complications in the process, which could wind up costing more in terms of time, money, and emotions.
Visit here for a board-certified adoption lawyer in Michigan.
Visit Your Local Courthouse
If a stepparent wants to adopt their stepchild in Michigan, they should inquire about the adoption procedure at their local courtroom. You can start the adoption procedure by possibly obtaining a packet of court forms from your local courthouse.
These packets often contain the paperwork required to submit an adoption petition, as well as details on the prerequisites for adoption.
You should verify with your local courthouse to make sure you have the right forms and information for your particular case because the procedure may differ based on the county.
You can get information on the precise requirements and forms that must be filled out for your case from the court clerk or a court administrator.
To get a general idea of the procedure, the papers required, and the conditions for the adoption, stepparents who seek to adopt their stepchild may find it helpful to obtain court form packets from their local courthouse.
A lawyer or adoption agency, however, should also be consulted because they may offer advice, assistance, and answers to any questions you may have about the procedure.
Find a local Michigan courthouse near you.
Purchase Stepchild Adoption Court Forms Through a Service
In Michigan, a stepparent may also acquire stepchild adoption court forms from an online service if they seek to adopt their stepchild. These services often offer the paperwork, guidelines, and data required to finish the adoption procedure.
Doing an internet search for “stepparent adoption forms” will return a variety of services. The forms may be provided by some of these services for a cost, as this is a service provided.
The forms must be specific to the state of Michigan and must satisfy the standards for adoption in the county where the adoption will be filed.
It’s suggested you speak with a lawyer since they can offer direction and assistance during the procedure and respond to any questions you might have.
Additionally, they may make sure that the adoption is carried out accurately and quickly and that all legal criteria are followed.
Visit here for more information on the requirements to adopt in Michigan.
Curious about how much it would cost to adopt your stepchild? We put together an article just for you.
In Michigan, there are a number of steps that must be taken before a stepparent can legally adopt their stepchild. These steps include submitting an adoption petition, finishing a home study and background check, getting the biological parent’s permission, and terminating the biological parent’s parental rights.
Filing of the Petition for Adoption
A stepparent in Michigan must first submit a petition for adoption to the court in order to adopt their stepchild. The petition is a legal document that includes details on the biological parent, the stepparent, and the stepchild.
The stepparent is required to supply their contact details, which include name, residence, occupation, and relationship to the child.
They must also include details on the stepchild, such as their name, birth date, and present legal standing.
The other biological parent must also provide their consent, or the stepparent must show that their rights have been terminated.
You can do this by giving a copy of the court ruling ending their parental rights or by getting the biological parent to sign a written consent form.
The probate court in the county where the stepparent and stepchild reside is where the petition for adoption must be submitted.
The petition will be examined by the court to make sure it is accurate and has all relevant details.
A hearing date will also be set by the court to hear the adoption request and make a decision.
Both the stepparent and stepchild must appear in court, where they can also be asked to present more evidence or paperwork.
Keep in mind that this procedure can be complicated, so it is recommended to seek the assistance of a lawyer or adoption agency to make sure the petition is submitted correctly and that all necessary procedures are done.
Home Study and Background Check
Before allowing for stepparent adoption in Michigan, the court will order the completion of a home study and background check. In order to determine whether the stepparents are qualified to adopt a child, a home study of the stepparent’s residence is performed as well as a background.
A social worker normally undertakes a home study, visiting the stepparent’s residence and interviewing the stepparent and any other members of the household.
Social workers look at the living conditions in the family, the stepparent’s parenting style, and their interaction with the child.
The background check is done to make sure the stepparent has no past with the police or child protective services that would disqualify them from adopting a kid.
In order for the court to evaluate whether the stepparent is suitable to be an adoptive parent and what is in the child’s best interests, the home study and background check are essential components of the adoption process.
When deciding whether to approve or reject the adoption, the court will consider the findings of the home study and background investigation.
It is significant to remember that the background check and home study procedures can take weeks or even months to complete, and the stepparent should be ready to supply any information or paperwork that the social worker may want.
Additionally, if the stepparent moves or if there are any other substantial changes in the household, the home study and background check may need to be revised.
Consent of the Biological Parent
The biological parent’s approval is an essential step in the Michigan stepparent adoption procedure. The biological parent must formally consent to the adoption by signing a document stating that they are aware of its legal ramifications and are prepared to relinquish their parental rights to the child.
The biological parent’s approval is typically obtained by having them sign a consent form in front of a notary public.
The biological parent in this situation must be made aware of the adoption proceedings and given the chance to attend court and voice their opposition to the adoption.
The court may revoke the biological parent’s parental rights if they are unable or unwilling to do so. If the biological parent cannot be found, is deemed unfit to be a parent, or has abandoned the child, this may occur.
Without the biological parent’s permission, the court may approve the adoption in such circumstances.
Important to note is that if the child is being adopted by a relative or is in the care of a governmental agency, the biological parent’s approval is not necessary.
The biological parent’s consent is a critical step in the stepparent adoption process, so it’s necessary to make sure that it’s obtained lawfully and that the biological parent is fully aware of the legal ramifications of the adoption.
Termination of the Biological Parent’s Rights
The termination of the biological parent’s rights is a requirement for stepparent adoption in Michigan before the adoption can be finalized. A legal procedure known as the termination of parental rights severing the parent-child bond enables the stepparent to adopt the child without the biological parent’s permission.
If the biological parent cannot or will not consent to the adoption, if they are found unsuitable to be parents, or if they have abandoned the child, the court may terminate their rights.
The biological parent’s parental rights may also be terminated by the court if they cannot be found or if they have neglected to keep in touch with the child for an extended period of time.
Parental rights are often terminated through a court proceeding, where the biological parent is informed and given the chance to appear in court and provide their side of the story.
The biological parent’s suitability as a parent and the child’s best interests will both be taken into account by the court when making its decision.
The biological parent will lose all legal rights and obligations to the child after the parental rights are terminated, and the stepparent will then be free to move through with the adoption process.
To ensure that the procedure is conducted correctly and that the child’s best interests are safeguarded, it is advisable to contact legal counsel.
Finalization of the Adoption
After all the necessary steps have been completed, including filing the petition for adoption, completing the home study and background check, obtaining the consent of the biological parent, and terminating the biological parent’s rights, the court will review the case and decide whether to grant the adoption.
The finalization of the adoption is the last step in the process, and it is done through a court hearing. The stepparent, the child, and any other necessary parties will be required to attend the hearing.
During the hearing, the court will review the petition for adoption and all the supporting documents and evidence, including the home study and background check.
The court will also consider the best interests of the child when making its decision.
If the adoption is granted, the court will issue an adoption order, which legally establishes the stepparent as the child’s parent and terminates the legal relationship between the child and the biological parent.
After the adoption is finalized, the stepparent will have the same legal rights and responsibilities as a biological parent, including the right to make decisions regarding the child’s education, healthcare, and welfare.
The child will also take the stepparent’s last name and will be entitled to inheritance rights.
It is important to note that the finalization of the adoption process can take several months to complete and that it is advisable to seek the help of an attorney or adoption agency to ensure that the process is handled correctly and that all necessary steps are taken.
Should I Adopt My Stepchild?
A part of life is that many parents find themselves remarried with stepchildren. You may be asking yourself, should I adopt my stepchild?
You should adopt your stepchild if you are prepared for a lifelong commitment. Adoption is permanent, and you cannot change your mind should you and your spouse later decide to divorce. If you are prepared to love and honor your commitment to your adopted stepchild, you should adopt your stepchild.
If you are considering adopting your stepchild or stepchildren, there are some things you will want to think about before taking the plunge.
It is safe to assume that you love your stepchild, so let’s go over some things to make sure you have covered all your bases.
It is important to remember that adopting your stepchild is a lifelong commitment. You may have a very good marriage now, but even good marriages can turn rocky.
At the beginning of a new marriage, you are in love and over the moon with happiness. Having romantic ideas of how the family dynamics will be is normal and sets a positive path forward.
Just know that you cannot simply change your mind about the adoption down the road if your marriage does not work out.
If you are unwilling to continue the parent/child relationship if your marriage goes south, then you should not adopt your stepchild.
Should the marriage end in divorce, you will still need to have cordial communications with the child’s other parent to co-parent your child.
Other things to consider would be if your marriage ended in divorce, you would be financially responsible for half of the expense of raising the child.
After a divorce, you would still be tied to your spouse for life, as you would both have a child together. Until the child turns 18 years of age, there will still be periods when the child resides with you.
No one wants to think about the possibility of divorce when things feel so right. Statistically, however, about half of all marriages end in divorce.
If you are not willing to make a lifelong commitment to a child, then you should not adopt the child.
Providing you do decide to proceed with the adoption of your stepchild, keep in mind that there are things you will want and need to do afterward to tie up any loose ends.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Adopt My Stepchild?
It’s a common question, do you need a lawyer to adopt your stepchild?
You do not need a lawyer to adopt your stepchild. Visit your local courthouse to acquire the required court forms and a list of requirements. Although you are not required to have an attorney to adopt your stepchild, hiring an attorney for any life-changing event is highly recommended.
You most certainly do not need an attorney to adopt your stepchild, as the process is a bit less complicated than other types of adoption.
Do-It-Yourself Stepparent Adoption in Michigan
Attorneys are nice to have and can do the leg work for you, but you most certainly do not need an attorney to adopt your stepchild.
If you are feeling a bit lost and want more information on starting your adoption journey, you may want to visit Michigan Adoption Requirements: Complete Guide.
Just keep in mind that many of the requirements will not apply to you if you are already residing with your stepchild.
Providing there is no anticipated legal battle from one of the biological parents, then one would be encouraged to obtain the court forms from your local courthouse, usually available to download online.
You may also wish to contact your local Department of Human Resources to speak to someone about how to process your adoption petition or reach out to your local courthouse.
Most courthouses have what is called a facilitator who helps guide you in the steps you need to take to complete legal processes without a lawyer.
- Michigan State Court Forms
- Do it Yourself Stepparent Adoption
- Michigan Department of Health & Human Services
Stepparent Adoption Contested by Biological Parent
Adopting a stepchild involves obtaining the permission of both biological parents. You will need the blessing of your spouse as well as the other parent.
How will the biological parent feel about the idea of a stepparent wanting to adopt their child? This depends on the relationship between the biological parent and the child.
There are times when the other parent will voluntarily terminate their rights to their child. Perhaps there is very little relationship between the parent and child.
If the stepparent has taken on the active parenting role, and if the biological parent recognizes their lack of involvement, they may agree to know the adoption decision is in the best interest of their child.
When the biological parent’s rights are terminated, it also frees them from court-ordered financial obligations.
Sadly, this can be a huge motivating factor for some biological parents to voluntarily terminate their rights to their children.
What do you do, though, if the biological parent refuses to give permission and contests the adoption? States will almost always only allow two parents to have parental rights to a child. However, there have been a few cases where the courts have allowed three parents.
States are required to take the parental rights of the biological parent very seriously and will only terminate their parental rights if the parent is proven to be unfit, is not the true biological parent, or has in essence abandoned the child.
A parent can be found to be unfit for several reasons. Examples of an unfit parent can be things like being abusive or neglectful. Are they incarcerated or have they been incarcerated?
Is the biological parent’s home environment safe for this child? What type of people do they hang out with and have visited their home? Many things can deem a parent unfit.
For a parent to be accused of parental abandonment, the parent must not have spent any time with the child or paid child support in a very long time, usually a year.
If there is a question of paternity and it can be proven through the court system that the “biological” parent is not the parent, after all, that opens the door for adoption possibilities.
However, the rights tend to be placed with the biological parent, so that can be a tricky scenario.
Telling a Child Their Stepparent is Adopting Them
Depending on the age of this child being adopted, you will most certainly be excited to tell them the good news! In some states, a child over a certain age will need to permit to be adopted.
Not telling the child they are being adopted by the stepparent can create mistrust and hurt down the road, so think twice if you were planning on not telling them until later.
I strongly encourage you to not keep the adoption hidden from the child or children. Allow them the opportunity to be excited about being adopted! Involve them in the process and celebrate!
And hats off to you if you are a stepparent considering adopting your stepchild. It takes a huge heart and unconditional love to adopt a child that is not biologically yours.
And when you are helping raise a child, you are already a huge part of their life whether you make it official or not.
What are the Home Study Requirements for Stepparent Adoptions in Michigan?
Prior to permitting an adoption to take place, a home study or home study is a screening of the home and lives of potential adoptive parents.
A home study is needed by legislation in some countries, as well as in all international adoptions. Even though it isn’t legally needed, an adoption agency may insist on it.
You will be required to meet with a child-placement social worker for a home study in Michigan.
Does the Stepchild Have to Consent to an Adoption in Michigan?
A child who is fourteen (14) years and older must provide signed consent to their own adoption in Michigan. Younger children are not required to give their consent.
You are encouraged to proceed with a stepparent adoption during a time when your stepchild will react favorably to knowing you are adopting them.
Important to remember when planning to adopt your stepchild is that it is likely your stepchild has been through quite a lot.
Absent biological parents not voluntarily involved in their child’s life can be a painful emotion to live with for your stepchild.
Another thing to consider is the timing of the stepparent adoption. Was there a divorce previous to your marriage with your stepchild’s parent that your stepchild is still reeling from?
Children often suffer emotionally from the loss of a biological parent. Even a marriage viewed as a positive step forward takes time for a child to adjust to.
Consider letting the dust settle between major life events.
Can a Child Be Adopted Without the Father’s Consent in Michigan?
Under citation code Comp. Laws § 710.43, a father’s consent to an adoption in the state of Michigan involves the following.
Consent to adoption shall be executed by:
- Each parent or the surviving parent
The court may permanently terminate the rights of the putative father when he:
- Submits a verified affirmation of his paternity and a denial of his interest in custody of the child
- Files a disclaimer of paternity
- Was served with a notice of intent to release or consent at least 30 days before the expected date of birth but failed to file an intent to claim paternity either before the expected date of birth or before the birth of the child
- Is given proper notice of hearing but either fails to appear at the hearing or appears and denies his interest in custody of the child
- Has not made provision for the child’s care and did not provide support for the mother during her pregnancy
- Has not provided support for the mother, has not shown any interest in the child, and has not made provision for the child’s care, for at least 90 days preceding the hearing required under § 36
About the Author:
Trina Greenfield, the owner of SmackDown Media LLC, is passionate about providing information to those considering growing their family. Trina is a seasoned writer, content creator, and website owner with a passion for unbiased research, educational platforms for children and adults, as well as all things family-related.