When the spouse of a custodial parent adopts the parent's child, the court process they use is stepparent adoption. Stepparent adoption in Michigan can happen after the biological parents get a divorce. If the biological parents never were married, a stepparent adoption can also be an option. A Michigan adoption attorney can help you through this court process.
Stepparent adoption is a multi-stage legal action that has permanent consequences. Stepparent adoption in Michigan can involve any one of these three situations:
- You adopt your stepchild
- Your spouse adopts your child
- Your child gets adopted by the other parent's new spouse
This article discusses three things you need to know about stepparent adoptions in Michigan.
The Permanent Consequences of Stepparent Adoption
When people get married, they can always get a divorce if things do not work out as they had hoped. With a stepparent adoption, on the other hand, there is no way to “undo” the adoption. Even if the stepparent and the child's biological parent eventually separate or divorce, the adoption remains.
The stepparent could get ordered to pay child support for the adopted stepchild. It is wise for a stepparent to think about this possibility when considering a stepparent adoption. A stepparent who adopts a stepchild would have the same parenting time, custody, and visitation rights as a biological parent if the stepparent and biological parent separate or divorce.
Multiple Stages to Complete a Stepparent Adoption in Michigan
A child can only have two parents. If both biological parents are alive, then one parent must be removed before a stepparent can adopt the child. The biological parent who is not married to the stepparent wanting to adopt the child can consent to have parental rights voluntarily terminated. If that parent does not agree to step aside, the judge will hold a hearing to determine if it is appropriate to involuntarily terminate that biological parent's rights to the child.
How Stepparent Adoption Can Impact the Child Financially
After the termination of parental rights of the biological parent, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, that parent has no legal responsibility to support the child financially or in any other manner. If the adopting stepparent “falls off the face of the earth,” the child will only have one parent to look to for financial support. This fact is a significant consideration when judges rule on parental termination petitions.
A stepparent adoption can “disinherit” the child from receiving an inheritance from the biological parent whose rights got terminated and his or her family. Here is how this works. The child's grandparents on the terminated biological parent's side provided for all of their grandchildren in their will or trust agreement.
If the document refers to all of the grandchildren by category rather than by name, the termination of parental rights will cut the grandchild out of the will. Once the biological parent is no longer the legal parent because of the termination of parental rights, the grandparents on that side are no longer the legal grandparents.
It is still possible for those grandparents to provide for the grandchild to inherit from them, but they will have to take specific actions to do so. One way to accomplish this result is for them to identify the grandchild by name in their will and state that they want the child to inherit from them despite the fact of the termination of parental rights.
We understand that these concepts can be confusing. Do not worry. A Michigan adoption attorney can explain these things and answer your questions about stepparent adoption.