The Michigan Supreme Court has finally handed down its decision in In Re AJR--a step-parent adoption case. According the the supreme court, the constitutional rights of a noncustodial parent ["NCP"] who has joint legal custody trump the right of a child or children to live in an intact family despite the failure that NCP to pay regular and substantial support and to maintain a regular and substantial parent-child relationship in the two years prior to filing of the step-parent adoption petition. If the NCP with joint legal custody will not consent to the adoption, then it will not be permitted by the adoption code. Only if the NCP with joint legal custody has his or her parental rights terminated for neglect or child abuse may a stepparent adoption proceed.
I want to personally thank Scott Bassett who gave tirelessly of his time, expertise and efforts to take this case on a pro bono basis up on application for leave to the Michigan Supreme Court. Traci R. Gentlozzi has written a comprehensive article pointing out the pitfalls and problems created by this decision. Thanks to American Academy of Adoption Attorneys member Herbert Brail for his contributions to the analysis in that article. The article may be read here:
Collateral damage: Ruling makes stepparent adoptions near impossible, Traci R. Gentlozzi, Michigan Lawyers Weekly, September 1, 2014 (access required)
The Michigan Supreme Court Opinion for In Re AJR may be read here: Download In Re AJR_Mich S. Ct Decision
Earlier Blog Posts regarding In Re AJR and access to additional documents: