If you’re a stepparent in Michigan, adopting your stepchild might seem like the perfect way to make them a real part of your family. The stepchild might even agree to the adoption if they have a good relationship with you. However, you’ll have to undergo a legal process before the state recognizes your stepchild as your actual child.
How do you adopt a stepchild?
According to state law, your stepchild’s biological parent must relinquish their parental rights before you can adopt their child. If they willingly give up their rights, you can start the divorce process. If not, a judge could terminate their rights under certain conditions. Among other things, you’ll have to prove that the parent hasn’t visited or financially supported their child in the past two years.
Once you’ve crossed this hurdle, a family law attorney may help you start the adoption process. You’ll need to gather documents like birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce certificates and other important information. This shows the court that you’re being honest about your family situation. If your stepchild is at least 14 years of age, they will have to agree to the adoption in writing.
When you file a petition for adoption, the judge will order a social worker to investigate your situation and write a report. You might also have to attend a hearing and answer further questions about the adoption. The judge will use all this information to decide whether you can adopt your stepchild.
How can you get help through this process?
Adopting a child can be a long, time-consuming process. An attorney may help you get the paperwork in order and answer questions at the hearing. If the child’s biological parent tries to interfere with the adoption, your attorney may be able to help you prove to the judge that they’re an unsuitable parent.