Stepparents wishing to adopt stepchildren in Michigan need to follow regulations regarding the county in which to file, what documents are necessary and fees required to complete the process. In most cases, the parents seeking the stepparent adoption will need to hire an attorney. Additionally, the status of the noncustodial parent will need to be addressed prior to filing for the adoption.
When filing for a stepparent adoption, the petitioners, or persons filing for the adoption, must file in the Michigan county in which they live, or in the county where the adoptee resides, if different. You must file a "Petition for Adoption" along with a certified copy of the child's birth certificate. If the noncustodial parent has given consent to the adoption, you will need to file a signed "Consent to Adoption."
The cost for filing a "Petition for Adoption" in Michigan is $150. There is a $26 fee to obtain the new Michigan birth certificate once the adoption is complete and a $10 fee to obtain a certified copy of the "Order of Adoption." Seeking the help of an adoption attorney is highly recommended, and average hourly rates run about $150, though some will charge a flat fee.
The noncustodial parent's rights must be terminated prior to the stepparent adoption. The noncustodial parent may voluntarily terminate her rights, or the custodial parent my seek an involuntary termination. The court will complete a full investigation into both the petitioner's and adoptee's background. This investigation will include interviewing all parties involved, and may also require interviewing family and friends of the petitioner. In some cases, a home evaluation is also completed.
Noncustodial Parent Rights
In cases where the noncustodial parent does not give consent, you will need to file a motion for "Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights" with the court. This process requires that the respondent, or person being filed against, be properly served and given time to respond. If he refuses to respond within the allotted time -- usually three weeks -- a default judgment in favor of the petition is entered, and you can proceed with the adoption. If the respondent does respond, then a hearing is set, and it can take up to six months for a final ruling. Once the final ruling is made, provided the termination of parental rights is granted, you can proceed with the stepparent adoption.