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Jeanne M. Hannah

Yes, the biological father has to be notified of the filing of a step-parent adoption petition. However, at the same time, you would file a petition to identify the biological father and to terminate his parental rights without his consent.

The Adoption Code provides for this termination without his consent because he has--for two years prior to the filing of the petition--failed to have a regular and substantial parent-child relationship and to pay regular and substantial child support within his ability to do so.

It's rare for these fathers to oppose a step-parent adoption and with facts like yours, his opposition would fail. Please let me know if I can help you with this.


I married my wife one year ago. She has a 5 year old daughter. The biological abandoned them before she was born. After birth he asked my wife if she was his child knowing he was. My wife told him he could file a paternity test. He never did and has never contacted them. He is not listed on the birth certificate.

I want to adopt her. My wife and I have a 6 month old daughter. I her support her daughter. I consider her my daughter and I am her daddy.

Can I adopt her without the court contacting the biological? What if he decides after 5 years he wants to be a dad? Then what happens to me? I know that will never happen but I worry.

We live in Michigan.

Jeanne M. Hannah

The court will not do a "step-parent" adoption unless you are married. There are ways to accomplish service of process even if you do not have a physical address.

Jeanne M. Hannah

Your local probate court can provide you with the forms.

Robert Carbery

My case is a lot more strait forward.. I just need to find the forms for my wife to adopt my ADULT children. I know it is simple. Once I find the correct forms that is. I understand the only one that needs to consent it my adult children and their step mother. that the bio mother will be notified but has no say in it.

Dana Vincent

My daughter is now 5 years old. She was born in Florida, where I believe her biological father still resides, though I don't know for sure, since Florida Child Support Enforcement could never find him. Me and my fiancee recently moved to Michigan with her and our three other children (he has full custody of his 12-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter, and we have a 4-month-olddaughter in common.) My fiancee is the only daddy that she has ever known. Her biological father has never had much to do with her and never paid child support (we were never married, though he did sign her birth certificate) He has not seen her, talked to her, or communicated at all with her in over three years. She has told me that she wants my fiancee to be her daddy and she does not want to see her biological father ever again (I can't prove it, but I think he abused her when he saw her last). I informed him of our move out of Florida, but he never once even acknowleged that he received the message. My questions are: Do we have to be married before he can adopt her? He has raised her since just after her second birthday, and fully intends to raise her throughout her life. How difficult will it be to terminate her biological father's rights if he is untracable? I had to send him a facebook message about the move, since he will not return a phone call, and I do not have an address, and I seriously doubt he is working at all.

Jeanne M. Hannah

Biological parents always have rights. However, a step-parent adoption may be possible. It depends upon whether the particular facts of your case. Please call my office and set up a telephone consultation so that I can learn more facts to help you determine whether you can successfully pursue a step-parent adoption.

Tammy H

My daughter is almost 16 and my husband wishes to adopt her. We have been married for almost 8 years, he has been her "father" since she was 7 months old. She has never had any contact with her biological father, nor has he ever paid support. He never showed any interest in contacting me or spending any time with her up until a month ago. The bio father lives in Ohio, we have been Michigan residents her entire life, does the bio father have any rights to my daughter?

Jeanne M. Hannah

Hopefully, this "mother" has a support order that she is disobeying. The statute requires 2 years of failure to provide "regular and substantial" support AND to have "regular and substantial" parent-child contact.

It looks like you'll have to wait her out on the 2 years. But if there is no support order, then you should definitely file a motion to get one in place. Then once it is entered, you'll have to get at the back of the "two-year" line.

Lindsey Hatch

I have two step children that live with my husband and I full time. Their biological mother only communicates with her daughter through the occasioinal letter. The son does not want to speak with her at all. She provides no financial support and does not exercise her visitation. She lives in a polygomous relationship with another couple and her boyfriend. She refuses to sign over her rights despite her lack of visitation or support. We have minimal income so a lawyer will be difficult for us. What are our options? She has not completly abandoned them for two years it has been more like 16 months.

Wendy B

Here is a brief description of my support case. Custody and support were ordered in June of 2005. I was granted legal & sole custody at that time. The father failed to appear so no parenting time was established. Since 2005, the father has contacted me by phone less than 10 times & the only thing he has called to tell me is that he is going to kill me & kidnap my children. He is the biological father to my 3 children (ages 16, 13 & 11), however, he is only named on 2 birthcertificates. Last Februaury (2011) FOC started garnishing his social security disability checks. Prior to that, he had not paid at all. (His arrearages are now over $20,000) In March he filed to have his support obligation reduced. I did not recieve notice of the hearing so I was not there. They reduced his payment in July 2011 & have garnished his monthly check since then. In August 2011, he filed a parenting time petition that was held before a referee. At the referee hearing, we were ordered to get counseling (seperately). I was also instructed to take my children to a psychologist for a recommendation on parenting time due to the fact that he has not seen the children since 2003 and the case was set for an evidenciary hearing for the first week in October. The children & myself had our counsiling finished before the end of September & the psychologist completed & forwarded his report to both the referee & my attorney (thebiological father has not done the counseling). At the evidenciary hearing in October, the biological father failed to appear so the petition was dismissed & he was ordered to pay some of my attorney fees. In November 2011, he claimed (on facebook) that he didn't recieve notice of the evidenciary hearing & that's why he missed it. He didn't file his objection to the ruling until the third week of December. A hearing in front of the judge was scheduled for January 30th but his objection was not heard because he missed the deadline for filing it. The judge told him that he would have to start the petition process over. He has yet to file anything since then. I was married in December of 2010 & my husband would like to adopt my children. The adoption process seems to be expensive without counting the cost of hiring an attorney. My concern is that I will pay all this money & have my request denied because the biological father will not agree to let it happen. I know I said this was a brief description & to look at what I have just written, it looks long, but this situation is not typical. It is further complicated by drug addictions & mental illness on the biological fathers part. I just don't know where to turn with questions. Any ideas?

Jeanne M. Hannah

It sounds as though you would have a good chance for a step-parent adoption with biological father giving his consent so he can avoid further accumulation of child support arrearages. Many moms are afraid to ask. Sometimes it takes a lawyer to just smooth it over, explain how it works, and facilitate the obtaining of the consent from the biological father. I can help you do this. Please call my office to talk about moving forward with an adoption.


Hello, my husband and I have been married for 3 1/2 yrs. He has been apart of my daughters life since before she was 1yrs old. Her bio dad was apart of her life 3months after she was born until her 1st birthday. But not consistantly. He may have seen her 10 times in those 9months. Then he disappeared until 3months before her 3 birthday because child support granted him parenting time. For 6 weeks he got her every other weekend for a total of 9days. Then he stopped. He stop picking her up and the child support stop. In 0ctober of 2011 he started paying child support but doesn't return my phone calls and doesn't ask to see my daughter and she will be 5 in september 2012. All she knows is my husband as her father. We wanted to know what are our chances in adopting her because he has been paying child support since oct 2011 but hasn't. Spent anytime with my daughter since july 2010 and that was only 9 days and it was a yr before that.

Jeanne M. Hannah

Michelle, if you still have a child support order in place with Dad paying something, then you should be able to prove the "2 years of no regular and substantial child support." It's the zero dollar support orders that create problems with step-parent adoptions. I am assuming that since you have no address update, you are working toward your "2 years of no regular and substantial parent-child contact."

I hope those reading this comment will urge their caseworkers not to recommend zero dollar support orders. Even if it's at the minimum amount allowed, the custodial parent who has re-married has a chance for step-parent adoption with a minimum amount in child support required.


What happens in cases where the bio-dad refuses to update contact information to the court and me, fakes a disability so he doesn't have to work to pay child support (I can subpoena his optometrist records to prove he is more then capable of working)and is not receiving SSI have always been rejected)

I will be coming up on 2 years here soon.


If a noncustodial parent agrees to a step parent adoption, can it be done without legal representation?

Jeanne M. Hannah

Even with a consent from the biological father, most judges will want to see a marriage that is at least 1 year old.


I have a few questions and dont know who to go to, my daughter is 2 and her biological dad has not seen her in a yr, but has never been in her life consistantly. He does not and never has paid his child support. I am engaged and my fiance is who she calls dad. We are really interested in him adopting her, but I see there is a certain amount of time we would have to be married first? What if the biological father is willing to sign over his rights for the adoption, then is it different?

Jeanne M. Hannah

This bio dad had 8 years to find you and the child he'd heard about. Surely you had common friends or family contacts. If he'd seriously wanted to establish his parental rights, he had plenty of chances. At the time your adoption petition was filed, the bio dad had had no regular and substantial parent-child contact and had made no regular and substantial support payments. Thus, he should not be successful in setting aside the adoption. Setting aside an adoption would be the only way he could take your husband's rights away.

Your husband has adopted your child and is now a legal parent who, if something goes wrong with your marriage, will have a right to ask for custody and/or parenting time and who may be ordered to pay support.


My husband of almost three years now adopted my daughter and at that time I had not seen or heard from her bio dad in years, honestly I didnt even remember his full name.....well last week I actually ran into him after 8 years and he knew who I was and even said he had heard we had a child together but did not know how to contact me and wanted to know all about her.....If he deceides he wants rights to her dose he have any say? Can he have my husbands rights taken away?......also off that sitution say for some reason my marriage fails in the future can my husbands adopted rights be dissolved? ( not that i'm thinking of divorice I love my husband with all my heart just wondering how that would work)

Jeanne M. Hannah

Angela, a step-parent adoption case can be fairly simple or, with the facts you recite, more complicated. If you have to file a motion to terminate his parental rights, that complicates matters. Even serving him in prison can complicate matters.

You don't say where you reside, but if it is in Michigan, you might contact the Adoption Support Specialist at your local Family Court. They may be able to guide you through the process. If you need help they cannot give you, call me (if you live in Michigan) and I can help you. Jeanne


My ex-husband is in Prison he went in when my daughter was 1 1/2 and my son was 4 1/2 he has been gone for 5 years now, I have since then re-married to a man that would like to adopt my children how would that work? He isn't due to get out until 2013 and he then will go to serve time in Indiana. He owes 70,000.00 in back support on his other children from 30 years ago.

Thank you,



I have a question for you. I have been divorced from my husband since my baby was 1. He has had no contact with her, has shown no interest in being her dad and she is now 5. My husband has been the only dad she has known since she was 2. When we divorced because I was able to support my child on my own and he was an unemployed dead beat I asked for no support order. So it has been 5 years and no contact has been made and we go to court today to terminate rights,he doesn't show up,yet the judge would not terminate because he says because the support order hadn't been violated because I asked for none and the statute says both contact and support had to be neglected. So I am at a loss? I can't believe we have done everything right and the law is on his side. The judge gave our attorney 10 days to come up with something to prove failure to support but I am so afraid. Can you offer any advice. I am desperate! I live in Calhoun County.


My daughter is 14 and my husband would like to adopt her but the state keeps taking his income tax refunds and so we can't prove non support. He hasn't contacted my daughter in 5 years so that part is ok. If we ask to have my husband adopt her we will lose because that is just the way my ex is. What happens when she turns 18? Can we do it then? Shs is handicapped and will need care forever so we feel she would benefit from 2 legal parents in case something happens to me.

Worried Mom

I had my son in January of 2008, my fiancé at the time (his father), cheated on me and left the relationship in July of 2008. I met my now husband in September of 2008, and he has been a father to my son and still is. We will be married for two years this January. His biological father stopped paying support by may of 2009, and last saw my son in late September of 2009. I haven't heard from him since. I know this follows the rules for step parent adoption, my question is, how do I prove he hasn't seen him or paid support? A friend of mine ran into my ex's boss this last weekend and come to find out, he's been lying and taking off time to "see his son" when in reality he hasn't seen him in over two years. What do I do if he tries to lie and say he has seen him when he hasn't?

Jeanne M. Hannah

Kaylee, you will need to contact a Texas adoption lawyer. In Michigan, you would have the facts needed to terminate the biological father's rights without his consent. I suspect Texas Adoption Code is the same as Michigan's. But the adoption needs to occur in Texas, where you and the child live.


WE moved to texas to be with my fiancee, because of his better that he keeps climbing up the latter in(job position). we have been engaged for 1yr now and r getting married on the 12th, we would like him to be able to adopt my 4 yr old daughter. the biologiacal father got out of prision for b&e a few months ago and now want visitation. he was not at her birth and was there for a few days when she was 2 weeks than came up missing for a few months and every since than i tried getting them together and he acted like he didnt care. he want to jail 1 yr for having sexual relations with a 14 yr old when 19. got out for a month or so and went back in to go to prision, never paid child suport and was never around except for the few times i tried. now he will not give consent to adoption and i want to know if we can have my fiancee adopt her right after we get married, he loves her so much. and we dont want her around bio father because he lies,and uses her to either A: get back with me half the time or B: to get back at me. we talk a few mins on the phone about parenting time and he never onced asked about her just sad i was a bad ma. does this consider as abandonment? im scared and think he is tring to take her away from me because his grandparents have money

Jeanne M. Hannah

It sounds as though you have what is required to terminate the biological father's parental rights under the Adoption Code. Contact the adoption specialist in your county. If you are still confused about how to process a step-parent adoption, contact me and I can help you with this.

Jeanne M. Hannah

Sam, read through some of the recent comments. I just answered this question for someone else.


I just have a few questions regarding step-parent adoption. My husband and I met when my daughter was 3 years old. He is the only dad she has ever known, and he absolutely adores her. I was young and immature when I got pregnant and was only with her biological father once after a night of drinking with my friends. I have not seen/spoke to him since. By the time I had realized I was pregnant, I had forgotten his name, therefore do not have an address, phone number, etc. That was 8 years ago. My husband and I have been married for two years now, both have good jobs and are eager to get this adoption process rolling. I have contacted an attorney and scheduled an appointment but I'm afraid it's going to be very expensive to go this route. Is there a cheaper way to go about doing this? Do I have to have an attorney since I have no means of getting the non-custodial parents parental rights terminated? Any advise you could give would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Jeanne M. Hannah

Dear Memorri, please read the comment immediately below yours. You have to be married to do an adoption.
The termination of parental rights of the father should be easy, but a special petition will need to be filed and there will have to be a hearing. If you need some help with this, please email me at jeannemhannah [at]

[Or see above for my email address. Jeanne M Hannah


My finacee wants to adopt my 9 month old daughter. I only met the biological father twice and we had a bad night with drinking involved which resulted in the pregnancy. I seen him again a few months later, told him i was pregnant and he denied the child being his and told me i was crazy. I have not seen him since. I was never sure of his name at all. But that all happened when i lived in Georgia, i now live in michigan with my fiance and daughter. my fiance wants to adopt her but isnt sure how to go about it. or when he would be allowed to do so considering the biological father was never in any way involved with her. my fiance and i have been together since a few months before i had my daughter. He treats her as his own, and she even is calling him Da Da. How long does he have to wait before he can legally adopt her? And what does he have to do?

Jeanne M. Hannah

Alicia, to do a step-parent adoption, you need to:

1) Be married at least longer than one year;
2) Be able to prove 2 years of "no substantial parent-child relationship;" and
3) Be able to prove 2 years of "no substantial support relationship between father and child."

In the alternative, you need to have biological father sign a consent (this needs to be in front of a judge) to the adoption.

It sounds as though the second plan is your only option since the father has paid support.

alicia christensen

I moved to michigan when i was 5 months old with my daughter do to the fact her father kicked me out. He never contacted me once til my daughter was almost 2 yrs old and that was to complain about how much his child support payments are and that was in dec 2010. I'm with an amazing man now and we have been talking about marriage and he really wants to adopt my daughter. Her father has never asked anything about her or has any contact with her in any way shape or form. I'm not sure what i should do?

Jeanne M. Hannah

Sara, once you and your boyfriend get married, the facts you state would support a step-parent adoption. However, family courts usually are concerned about the stability of this marriage and will not approve a step-parent adoption until the parties have been married at least 1 or 2 years. It's impossible to have this happen in a short period of time or where the proposed adoptive father isn't married to the mother.



My daughter just turned 3. The last time I have heard from her biological father was when I was 4 months pregnant. He knew I was pregnant and even attended doctors appointments with me, so he knew very well my due date. He even listened to her heartbeat...and one day, broke it off. That day he pushed me(pregnant) into a wall and threatened my life. I never contacted or heard from him again. When she was about 10 months old, he started dating a girl that lived in the SAME apartment building as his own daughter and never made an effort to contact anyone in regards to seeing three years, he has not once made an effort to see her.

I am now engaged to a wonderful man(who has been around since the day she was born)...and she herself started calling daddy. He is all she knows. he would like to adopt my daughter ASAP because he is being deployed, and because he feels she is his daughter(just as much as she feels he is her father...).
What are our chances of making this adoption happen?

Don Bayes


I am not sure how to start but from the beginning. I met my wife in 2000. At the time she had 2 children ages 1 and 2. We got married and are still together for over 10 years. During that time the Bio Dad has been in and out of our kids lives, doesnt pay child support until he is threatened by CS or the courts. He has called the kids and told them he was killing himself, and other issues. He has at least 2 other children with two different mothers. He also has given up rights to one of them this following year. The kids we have want nothing to do with him any more they are now 12 and 13. I am their father on all levels and the such. He is almost at $7500 in back support. He has not seen his kids his son in over 2 years and the daughter a good year and a half. I want to adopt them and just end any contact or worry in the future. What is our chances to get his done if he tries to fight this? We will forgive all and any futre monies etc. I am just at a loss now on what to do?

Any and all help you have would be great.


Jeanne M. Hannah

Lisa, court intercepts of IRS refunds and other periodic payments, even though not regular, might be considered to be "regular and substantial" payments. Every judge is different in his or her approach to this issue and it's not possible to predict what the decision might be. Of course, if you fail on this issue, you're finished.

Often, though, particularly in these difficult economic times, non-custodial parents are happy to get out from under child support payments, particularly when they are then given relief from future child support. Some courts will approve (after the adoption) a stipulated order relieving the non-custodial parent of any arrearage. This, too, might be an incentive.


How does the court determine what the definition of "regular and substantial support" and "substantially comply with the court order" for child support mean? If the other parent is behind enough that their tax refunds get taken, and they make some other partial payments during the year but not regularly, then what will the court say? He has not seen the child in over 3 years so we can fulfill the other requirement, but I am afraid that if we file and then the judge decides we didn't fulfill the support requirement that my ex will work to see the child again. He is abusive so I am afraid to risk it if it is not pretty much a sure thing.

Jerry Wooster

My wife's Grandfather passed away and the funeral was Monday March 21, 2011. She is now wanting to move to Manteno Illinois in order to take care of her Grandmother. I currently have physical custody of my 2 daughters. The court (St. Joseph County) order shows Joint Legal. My ex-wife has had no contact (due to an abusive husband) since 2008.
How do I legally make this move, if I can at all?

Jeanne M. Hannah

Jerry, the adoption code requires two years of no regular and substantial parent-child contact and two years of no regular and substantial child support. You have to prove both to terminate her parental rights so that a step-parent adoption can go forward if she will not consent.

If she will consent, then her child support payments would stop. You could forgive her any arrearage in child support, although not if there's any money owed to the State or if you receive any public benefits.

If she will consent to the adoption, then a step-parent adoption is easy. Otherwise, you will have to wait until you can meet the statutory requirements.

Account Deleted

I have 2 girls from a previous mariage. I have custody and it's been almost 2 years since she has had contact with them. My ex-wife's visitation has been stopped by Friend of the Court due to her husband hitting my oldest in the face. We had at one time hired an attorney to gain custody due to them getting molested in their mother's house. So anyways, my ex has only paid $10 since July 2010, and hasn't seen them since early school year of 2009. Can wife wife and I perform a "Step-Parent" adoption with out my ex-wife interfering?

Thank you,



My fiancé has a 12 year old son with a passed girlfriend. Her rights were terminated at birth and he was put in foster care. My fiancé fought and won custody of him. His mother has no contact for 12 years, and we have no clue where she is. We will be married next year after living together for 2.5 years. I have a full time job with benefits and really want to adopt him. His son very much wants to adopt him as well. What all do I need to know to make this happen?



I have a daughter who is almost 6. Her father died when she was 1 and I have been with my soon to be husband for over 4 years. He was going to adopt her after we got married, but for insurance purpouses we wanted to do it sooner. I am unemployed and have no insurance, my daughter gets Medicaid, but has no dental insurance. We have spent a lot of money on dental work for her and would like to add her onto his insurance ASAP, but because she is not legally his daughter, he cannot. Can he adopt her before we get married?


I just want to share a bit of good news. We were able to terminate parental rights with the biological father contesting and present (w/ step parent adoption). Child support payments had been garnished and tax returns intercepted with gaps of 5 to 7 months at times but "payments" continued to come. In the end the biological father had six 1 hour supervised visits 4 years ago and made no attempt to establish parenting time after failing to take a drug test. The guy was his own worst enemy though, his testimony basically exposed him to be the deadbeat he was. Anyway, I thought it would be good for people to know that you can win cases like these if circumstances are in your favor. The law says "substantial compliance" and "regular" payments for child support within a 2 year period. The judge decided that substantial, regular compliance was not wages being garnished now and then. So the idea that the court sees all child support payments the same was not the case this time.

Jeanne M. Hannah

To find a sibling in Michigan or any child given up for adoption, you may search the DHS website, which maintains a registry of children who would like to be contacted by birth parents and birth parents who would like to be contacted by their children who were released to adoption. You can access that information here:

For the 50 states-- I am not sure all states maintain adoption registries. Here is a Google search that will help you on your way:

If that doesn't help, try this:

This site is specific about which states have registries and which do not:

Barbara Baker

I would like to connect with the 1/2 brother I have not seen in almost 60 yrs. He is the son of my fathers 2nd marriage. They divorced and her next husband adopted the son and the daughter she had from a previous marriage. My father was a very bitter man and would not speak of the son at all, and threw out everything that came regarding the adoption. I have no last name for him. My dad made his child support payments through the Friend if the Court,and if I could find out what she had her last name changed to on the checks I would know the last name of my brother. This happened in the 50's. I have no birthday for him, only that he was possibly born on 1952, and his first name was Noel.

Jeanne M. Hannah

Tami, your comment is well beyond the scope of free comment and help. You will need to call my office and schedule a paid consultation to discuss this very complicated situation.


Hi Jeanne, My husband was divorced from his ex-wife I believe it was 2002. My husband is originally from Michigan, but when we got married in 2004 he moved down to Indiana where I am from. At that time, his ex-wife agreed to let him move as long as the following happened: he did all the traveling back and forth to see his almost 12 year old son now, she got to claim him on her taxes every year, that we still paid support for the weeks that we did have him for more than 7 consecutive days etc... My husband and her wrote up a little agreement, signed and sent to the friend of the court to approve. Out of all of the above the only thing in writing is the transportation back & forth. At first we went up every 2 weeks to visit with his son until he was laid off from his job. Now we go up once a month if we can. I have been paying the child support ever since, so he does not fall behind and stays up to date. Even with that said, she said my husband has no parenting rights and only allows us to see him whenver it best suites her schedule and will not let us have him for more than a week in the summer and the week after Christmas. My husband has never pushed the issues because he always wanted to keep the communication friendly with her for the sake of his son. He did not want to make any waves. Now we cant seem to make arrangements that are suitable for both parties and she puts his son in the middle of the conversations. Now there is a lot of arguments between them and nothing has changed. He is fed up and not sure where to start? What are my husbands rights as a parent by Michigan Law???

Jeanne M Hannah

Angela, all of the instructions are in the step-parent part of my Blog. If you need help with this, please telephone to consult with me. I practice in a large portion of Michigan. Jeanne

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