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Jeanne M Hannah


Michigan courts will not allow a step-parent adoption unless you are married. Courts usually prefer that you are married for at least a year. However, under the facts of your case (a three-year relationship and a long-term friendship), the court might decide to allow a step-parent adoption after six months of marriage.

You are right. This man has no right to bother you. If you file for a step-parent adoption, because you would be able to prove that he's had no "regular and substantial care and support relationship" with your child within 2 years of the filing of the adoption petition, the court can terminate his parental rights even if he refuses to consent.

As for his $19,462 arrearages, the State of Michigan will not agree to let him off the hook for what is owed to the State. You might agree, but do not have to agree, to let him off the hook for any money owed to you.

You can contact me for more information about step-parent adoption at


Dear Jeanne,

I have a 6 1/2 year old daughter. Her father has never really been in her life. I went through my pregnancy on my own. When she was born I called to let him now. He asked me how I knew she was his. I received state assistance so they required his information. He then denied her so he was ordered to take a paternity test. The results with out shock to me were that he was the father. He was ordered to pay child support. His very first payment was feb. 22nd, 2008. He is behind to date $19,462.70. He just magically appeared March 2nd and found me on He sent me a message "to say hi" he says. I asked him why he contacted me. He says he just wanted to see if we were doing fine. He then says he knows he doesnt have the right to bother us. Then to end the message asks when my default picture was taken because I was looking good he says. When she was a few months old he did the same thing.. called me up to say how much he missed me etc.. Never bothering to ask about her. I informed him that he's right he doesnt have any right to contact me. He has only popped up out of the blue because child support has caught up with him. I told her She has a father, he's nothing but her sperm donor. Which maybe was a bit harsh.. but that's how i view him. He has done nothing for her except for the one payment we just received. He sent me a message back stating that if this man is truly wanting to be her father he should adopt her so that he wont have any rights anymore and so that he(sperm donor) wont have to pay any child support anymore. My fiance and I have discussed this before this situation ever came up. I've known him for 16 years. I've been with him for 3 years. I am not worried about anthing in the future with us as for any reason for him not to adopt her. We want our family to all have the last name anyway. Can my fiance adopt my daughter at this point? Or does he have to wait until we are married which will be June 7th, 2008. Does he (sperm donor) even really have any rights at this point because he paid a whopping $199.18 after 6 1/2 years??

Jeanne M Hannah


Every family law case depends upon its unique facts. It is possible that if your husband names you as guardian for his children in his Will, that the court would, under the particular facts of your case, allow that guardianship to continue.

I assume that you have considered the possibility of a step-parent adoption. Or have you?

wendy klein

My husband has obtained custody of his two children from a previous marriage, after a two- year long court battle proving the children were not safe in the custody of their mother. He obtained temporary custody first and after a long term investigation, he was awarded custody due to her drug use and other factors that put the children in danger. I am very close to his children and they consider me as more of a mom, than their own. We also have my 4 children and have established the custodial home and family. His ex-wife pays a small amount of child support because she refuses to get a job, and has visitation once every two weeks.
My question is, if something were to happen to my husband and he died, would I be able to obtain custody of my two step children? After our long battle, it would be a travesty if they had to be returned to her, and neither of them want to live with her. Their ages are 13 and 10 and we live in michigan.

Jeanne M Hannah


In my experience, mothers frequently have tremendous fears about attempting a step-parent adoption because they fear that the biological father will oppose it. Despite the mother's fears, however, experience shows that these fathers are--to a one--eager to get out from under the long financial obligation.

Contact the adption specialist in the Wayne County Family Court. There are standardized court forms and these specialists are typically very helpful.


Dear Jeanne,

I have been with my husband for 2 years (married only for 3 months. Since our meeting he took to my now 6 year old daughter instantly, and she to him. When he is not at work, and she is not at school they are inseperable and adore each other. He and I both have wondered about how to start the adoption process even before getting married, but now that I am expecting a new baby, we really want our family to all have the same family name!

At this point he is providing for her financially, including paying for her helath care etc., where he biological father has never.

She has not seen ortalked to her biological father since May of 2006. He has not called unless to threaten my life (he has a history of alcholism and assault with me and "freinds"), he has never paid cjild support or provided for her uthr than giving me an occassional $50 for christmas presents, the last time being in 2004? He does not work and lives in his parents basement ( I think he is still there?) He has not worked since 12/05 when his uncle retired form the home inprovemnet buisness and even then he was not supporting her, only his alcohol addiction. I am not keeping him from her or vice versa, exactly. In may of 2006 I had to drive 45 minutes to his parents house in the middle of the night to pick her up because he decided to call me and he told me I would never see her again.
I do not want to have to try to get him to go to court because I know he would try to stop the adoption just to spite me, not because he wants to see her. He never paid attention to her when she was at his parents house. Also I had to take her there and pick her up, he would not come for her. She does not have a place to sleep except in th esame bed as him in the basement(which is finished but still?) And I don't want the death threats to start again.

There is so much more I could say, but I will leave it as I live in Wayne county, he resided/resides in Oakland county. I assume I would file in Wayne county. Is there any way to do it quickly and with out him someway?


can i remove the father's name from my child's birth certificate if i am in custody of her? if so, how does one go about doing that?

Jeanne M Hannah

Amy, the best plan -- to make the adoption clean and unable to be challenged in later years -- is to properly serve the bio dad with notice of a stepparent adoption. If you really don't know where her is, there are methods by which this can be legally done. Most mothers are usually fearful that if they do this, the father will come back and try to get parental rights. In my experience, it has NEVER happened.

The facts in cases like yours -- no support and no contact in 2 years -- are what the adoption code is all about. If a mom proves that the bio-dad has had no "regular and substantial parent-child contact" within the 2 years prior to filing the adoption petition AND has paid no "regular or substantial support": the probate court will terminate the bio-dad's parental rights and grant the adoption. This is true whether the bio-dad agrees or not.

The keys here are 1) no "regular and substantial contact" AND no "regular and substantial parent-child contact" coupled with 2) two years prior to filing of petition.

If you have that evidence then you need have no fears at all about the stepparent adoption being approved. Call me if you live in any of the counties where I practice and I can assist you with this process.

Jeanne M. Hannah


Can a mother change the last name of her child to the child's step parent's name. The father is not on the birth certificate, has never seen or supported the child. The child is two years old. Also, with regards to official adoption, if it's been over 2 years, can the parents just ask the court to remove rights of the father so the step-father can adopt or must the father be notified--even if there's not been communication since the pregancy. Thanks.

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