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Maria R.

My husband has custody of his 4 children (14yrs, 13 yrs, 11 yrs and 7 yrs old). His ex wife only sees the children for 2 hrs on Weds and every other weekend for only of of the day (Fri for 2 hrs; Sat for 8 hrs; Sun for 8 hrs.) when she request to see them. There are times that she will call or text us not to bring the kids over because she is "busy" or "working late". At the time of divorce, she claimed that she was not working but only odd jobs here and there and was ordered to pay $25 per kid per month based on her income. Since their divorce last year, she has not paid not a penny to support but yet claims she "works late". We asked her many times to contribute to expenses for the children (e.g. glasses, school uniforms, supplies, etc and even for birthdays) and she ignores our requests. She currently has a domestic violence case against her because she physically abused the oldest child and also while during one of the visits recently we filed a police report because she took a bat and hit one of the younger children. My question is what rights do we currently have that we can pursue on getting the order enforced for child support and also how can we go about getting her visits reduced or parental rights terminated? I am not from MI and my husband tells me that this is a "woman's state" and that it would be hard for his case to be heard fairly in court because of the fact that he is a man. I do not agree, I feel that there has to be a way that the judicial system can see that her visits are not doing any good for the children and that we have to look out for the well being of the children. It has gotten to the point that they don't even call her mom or ask for her because she is not involved as a mother in their lives.
Is there any resources or solution to our issue? Thank you!

Jeanne M. Hannah

A child's preference is not sufficient to get a court to change custody. You have stated facts that may constitute sufficient good cause. But no change in custody case is inexpensive.


My 10 year old stepdaughter is terrified of her mother (who has custody) and her stepfather. She is consistently yelled at, berated, and ignored at home. She wants to live with us. Her mother refuses to allow it. Is there anything we can do that won't cost us a fortune? Her mother has been investigated multiple times in 2 states and has violated the Court Order which allowed her to move out of state many times.

Alie Baugh

I have a son with a guy whos a piece of shit. We have a history of Domestic Violence. Our son was in the home when the incident that landed him with 2 felonies occurred. After we broke up he violated 2 probation's and got a owi cause he is a alcoholic. He doesn't pay child support and barely sees his son. Recently in spite of me married a woman who I have a violent history with who has also threatened to kidnap my son. I have filed reports on her to protect my son. The court determined he has no legal or physical custody. but I want to completely terminate his rights and change his name. What steps can I take to make this happen successfully?

Jeanne M. Hannah

Your child's father's parental rights cannot be terminated by a court until you are married and file for a step-parent adoption. Most courts require a marriage of at least 1 year--sometimes 2 years-- to demonstrate permanency before approving a step-parent adoption.

Ashley Minder

Hello. I have an almost 3 year old daughter and her biological father does not want anything to do with her. I have tried to set up meetings with him to see her and there is always an excuse why he can't or he just doesn't show up. I left him when she was 3 days old and at about a month old began another relationship with another man. He has supported my daughter since she was a month old and he is the only man she has known as Daddy. We are planning on getting married but don't know exactly when. The biological father has said he wants to have his parenting rights terminated and her last name changed. He currently pays child support but is only ordered to pay $60.00 a month. But rarely holds a job long enough so there are periods of time I don't receive it. He has a bad record and also has felony charges against him from me in 2008 on a domestic violence case. He is in and out of jail, on probation and lives with his parents. I was wondering if it is possible to have his rights terminated and her last name changed. Like I said I have made attempts to contact him to see her but I'm just no longer willing to beg someone to want to be a part of my child's life when she has another Man who will gladly be her father and love and support her like he has for the past 2 and a half years. Any advice you can give me on this will be very much appreciated. Thank You!

Jeanne M. Hannah

You have the right to ask the probate court for a court-appointed lawyer to help you because the court is seeking to terminate your parental rights. The issues involved in your case are well beyond the scope of this blogging service.

Jeanne M. Hannah

You have the right to ask the probate court for a court-appointed lawyer to help you. If your mother is trying to adopt this child, you must be given personal service. It would be even better to protect your rights if you go to the Court, identify yourself and ask them to serve you with the paperwork just to avoid the possibility that the court doesn't have your proper address and service of process is done another way.


Anyone who can help,

When my son was 2 weeks old my mother kick me and my newborn out on the streets, being a mother I wanted him in a house and in his crib. So I ended up giving my mother guardianship of my son back in 2002. I've been fighting for cusody, now i have heard she is trying to adopt him and that there is some loop hole that she is able to do the adoption with out my knowlege or having a judge sign off. I'm not very fimialiar with the law so I thought i'd ask here.

I very worried mother!

Barbara Thornton

My husband has been convicted of csc on my stepdaughter. She came up to visit us anywhere from 5 to 6 times a year. Yes he is guilty and apparently this happened in MY home. I di not know it was going on and she showed no signs when she was here. Anyways, he is serving 7-15 in prison and the courts want to terminate his parental rights which I have no problem with BUT they want me to give the judge jurisdiction over our daughter (not the child in the court case) to the judge because that is the only way they can terminate his rights??? WHY??? Doesn't that give up my rights to my daughter?? What can I do I have done nothing wrong had I known he was touching my stepdaughter I would have turned him in!!! Help me please!

Jeanne M. Hannah


Modifications of custody--even legal custody--are not easy. Read some of the posts concerning what you have to prove here.

However, if the children's father doesn't pay support during the next 6 months, then you will have what you need by the statute to terminate his parental rights without his consent. In other words--as I've said in step-parent adoption posts--if you can prove two years of lack of regular and substantial parent-child support relationship and also two years of lack of regular and substantial parent-child contact, then a court will terminate parental rights without the consent of the biological parent.

If you have to have an actual termination hearing, you'll need the assistance of a lawyer. Adoptions with consents are easier for a parent to do without assistance of counsel.


Dear Jeanne,

I have full physical custody of my 4-year-old and 6-year-old daughters, but joint legal custody with my ex-husband. I am now remarried (almost 2 years) and my husband would love to adopt my daughters as his own; however, my ex refuses to give up his legal custody of them. In my eyes he is a completely unfit parent for many reasons but I am not sure how the courts see it. He just got out of jail (early on probation) where he spent 10 months for drug charges, UDAA, and larcony charges. He has not paid child support in 1-1/2 years and owes appr. $6000. He has no job, no stable place to live, no car or car insurance, etc. He has made suicide attempts in the past and has told the girls that he won't see them again and "it's mommy's fault." My ex currently sees the girls 3 hours once a week (supervised by me, when and where I see fit). As far as they know, my current husband is their Daddy and they are really uninterested if my ex comes over or not. I am due with a baby girl in 1 month and would really love all of the kids to have the same name and make our family more complete with an adoption (among other reasons). Do you think I have good enough grounds to try for full legal custody? I would love your advice! Thank you.

Jeanne M. Hannah

Contact the adoption specialist in the county where you and the child reside. Since you won't need any special hearing to terminate the bio father's rights without his consent, you could readily do this without assistance of counsel. Let me know if you need assistance, and I will be glad to work with you. Jeanne

Jennifer Valley

My child's biological father is willing to terminate his rights (so his step-father may gain parental rights). How do I file for this in Michigan?

Jeanne M. Hannah

A support obligation is only retroactive to the date of filing your complaint.

Rachel GAgnon

I have a 17 yr old son who's biological father signed over his paternal rights when he was 5 yrs old. From birth to age 5, I did not have a support order in place and he never spent time with my son. His biological father is now asking to spend time with him. I am wondering if my son could benefit financially from now enforcing back child support from birth to age 5.

Jeanne M. Hannah

Only if there is an adoption will your son be free from the potential to pay child support. If, however, he gives no support during pregnancy, no support for 2 years, and has not parent-child relationship for 2 years, then the mother could have his parental rights terminated if she marries and there is a step-parent adoption.

However, there exists a possibility that the mother of this infant and her parents will cut him out of life long enough that he has no chance to form a parent-child relationship and then, a little later, sue for child support. If Mom gets state assistance (Medicaid) she's going to be pressured to give ID of the father to the State.

He's got to make up his mind whether he wants a parent-child relationship or whether he just wants to pay support, it seems to me. There is a good possibility that a support / paternity suit is in the future for him.


Jeanne~ My 18 year old son learend his 16 yr old X g-friend is pregnant and due in October (She continued to have periods). The kids agree'd to give it up for adoption but now her mom has decided to keep the child and take over guardianship. The 16 yr old will still be raising him. They have given my son the option to walk away and not be on the brith cert. Or he can be in the babies life and be on the birth cert.
1. If my son chooses to walk away, how do we protect him from them coming back for anything down the road?

Jeanne M. Hannah

Autumn, your case presents complications that are well beyond any "do-it-yourself" advice. These complications are well beyond a court's adoption specialist's ability to help, because they cannot give you legal advice and they cannot represent you in court,

I am able to help you, but you must contact my office and enter into an attorney/client relationship.

Jeanne M. Hannah, Family Law Attorney
5922 Deer Trail Drive
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Tel. 231-275-5600
Fax. 231-275-5602
Web site:
Web site:


I have a 4 year old who's father and I split up in Dec. of 2009. Since then, he has only seen our child twice. A weekend visit in April of 2010 and a 30 min.visit in May of 2010. He doesn't call very often (every 3+months) and offers no means of support. I have since married and my Husband (whom my son calls Dad) wants to adopt my son. But first I realize parental rights need to be terminated or signed over. I asked about the possibility of my ex signing off and he doesn't want to. There is currently NO support order. If I petition the friend of the court for support will that hinder any hope for terminating his rights? I want my son to be secure, safe, and have a stable lifestyle. His biological father isn't fulfilling that but won't legally let go. What can I do?

Jeanne M. Hannah

Samantha, this question has been asked and answered several times in the comments above. Please review prior comments.


I have a 2 year old son. His father come's over once in a blue moon to see him. So I asked him if he would be willing to give up his rights. This way if something happens to me, my parents will get our son. they could give him a better life than he could. What do I do and where would I go?

Jeanne M. Hannah

Hello Erica, thank you for contacting me.

The blog post that you wrote this comment / question on was written in 2005. Since then, in 2010, an important family law decision was made by the Michigan Court of Appeals. That court held that a parent's parental rights might be terminated, but that doesn't necessarily mean that his child support obligation would end. You can read a blog post about that decision here.

Many family courts are unwilling to terminate parental rights and they cannot do so if there is to be no step-parent adoption unless the court order has some protection for the State of Michigan in case public benefits such as food stamps, rent subsidies, etc. are used by the custodial parent.

But the facts that you state--so far--might lead a family court judge to terminate parental rights while leaving in place the support obligation. In fact, I believe that the court will want more--the right of the court to direct the Friend of the Court to do a child support review in the future if public benefits are used.

For more advice and some help with this issue, you may call my office to set up a telephone consultation.

Jeanne M. Hannah

Hello Erica, thank you for contacting me.

The blog post that you wrote this comment / question on was written in 2005. Since then, in 2010, an important family law decision was made by the Michigan Court of Appeals. That court held that a parent's parental rights might be terminated, but that doesn't necessarily mean that his child support obligation would end. You can read a blog post about that decision here.

Many family courts are unwilling to terminate parental rights and they cannot do so if there is to be no step-parent adoption unless the court order has some protection for the State of Michigan in case public benefits such as food stamps, rent subsidies, etc. are used by the custodial parent.

But the facts that you state--so far--might lead a family court judge to terminate parental rights while leaving in place the support obligation. In fact, I believe that the court will want more--the right of the court to direct the Friend of the Court to do a child support review in the future if public benefits are used.

For more advice and some help with this issue, you may call my office to set up a telephone consultation.

Erica Jones

Hi, I have two daughters 5 and 3 by my husband who moved to Florida, in August it will be three years since then. He has visited michigan once in that time for a week, and only took an hour of his visit to spend time with our daughters... so they've seen each other once in three years, and he calls about once every 3 to 6 months but they dont like talking to him because they dont remember him. I dont say anything bad about him to them, we just dont talk about him. He does pay child support fairly regualrly, but recently he's been asking about signing over his parental rights even if it means he still has to pay child support. Is this possible??

Jeanne M. Hannah

Aundre: You will not be the first man to have been tricked into being a support dad. All of the arguments you have against being this child's father (other than the obvious -- the DNA doesn't match) have been argued to a court and thrown out.

The most important things you should do right now are:

1) Answer the complaint in a timely manner. Do not let your default be taken.

2) Send the original of your answer to the court clerk, copy to the P.A. and Friend of the Court with a proof of service. Original copy of all documents should be filed with the Family Court Clerk. Ask for a DNA test as part of your response.

Perhaps you'll be lucky and the DNA test will prove you are not the father. In the future, supply your own condom. At least then, you'll know it doesn't have a hole in it.


I just got childsupport papers served to me at my home for a 8 month child that i never knew ever exsisted! I never had any type of relationship with this woman and we had one sexual encounter over a year ago that she actually paid me money for. Nothing more nothing less. There was protection that she provided for us to use(a condom) there was no question of the possibility of getting her pregnant. she was truelly infactuated with me but she knew i would never be interested in being with her in any type of way, at that time i made the mistake of being hard on cash and could really use it. Now a year and a half later she is sueing me for child support. She never even contacted me to tell me that she was pregnant, she knew if i thought it was even a possibility i would fight for a abortion. What are my rights? I feel like I have been set up by a woman who did anything to be linked to me and my family! And all she can say now is "She is here now". No ferternity test has been taken yet but I dont want nothing to do with this woman or this child. Advice PLEASE!

Jeanne M. Hannah

Hello Jahida, since you now reside in PA with your child, you will have file the adoption there. I don't practice in PA and do not know what the law is there regarding step-parent adoptions. I imagine, though, that it is pretty similar to Michigan's law. You need to prove 2 years of no regular and substantial parent-child contact and 2 years of no regular and substantial child support payments.


I have a four yearold daughter thats father has been absent from her life for the past 8months. he has been in and out of her life since birth. We moved to philadelphia a year ago, my husband wants to adopt her,would I have to travel to michigan or can I file here in philadelphia for his rights to be terminated or should I wait a little longer to see if he bothers to contact her..


My ex-husband moved out of our home when I was three months pregnant. He has not seen my daughter since she was 6 weeks old (she is now 4 3/4's. When our divorce was final it was determined that he should have supervided visits due to substance abuse issues. I am a professional and rather than be bothered with him I asked for no support. I have been the sole provider for her since day one. He has never made an attempt to arrange time to see my daughter, he did not show up to any divorce hearings to argue or dispute this. I have been happily married now for a year to a man who my daughter knows as her dad and he wants to adopt her. I am positive out of spite my ex will try to throw a wrench in this any way he can. What if after we file he wants to start parenting time? WIll he stand a chance? Will the court consider this if it just springs up after we file for adoption? I am so scared to even start in fear that the court will start allowing him to see her even after abandoning her for almost 5 years. She has no idea who he is!! Any advice you can give would be much appreciated. P.S We do live in MI

Jeanne M. Hannah

Kimberley, you state that you have a guardianship in place. Is it a regular guardianship or a limited guardianship? Where is the father? Has the biological father acknowledged paternity? Would the mother voluntarily terminate her parental rights by consent to allow a relative adoption?

There are many ways to terminate a father's parental rights under Michigan law without his consent. However, if he can be identified and fights termination, you have to prove 2 years of lack of regular and substantial parent-child contact and 2 years of lack of regular and substantial support.

I really don't have enough facts to answer your question. If you wish to pursue this further, please call my office. 231 275-5600


My husband and I have guardianship of my great nephew who is 20 months old. We have had him since he was six months. My niece currently has two bench warrants in two different states, lost her first child that my sister adopted, and has spent the last 14 months running state to state. The baby has medical and developmental issues due to my nieces documented neglect. My concern is how can we be proactive in protecting this child with in the boundaries of MI law?

Jeanne M. Hannah

Robert, no court will terminate your parental rights and obligations unless there is a step-parent adoption planned. Cases like yours are so sad because there are parents (and I see a lot of this, especially in military families) where the other parent refuses to facilitate parenting time. Parenting time is separate from child support. Even if a parent refuses to provide PT, the non-custodial parent has to pay child support.

My advice? Make plans to let the mother know by certified mail, return receipt requested that you expect your leave to be from ___________ to __________ . Let her know that you will be in the town where the children live and that you will expect to exercise parenting time. Communicate with the moderator and let him/her know that this is your plan. You will come to the children.

Establish regular written and telephonic or email communication with the children. Sometimes mothers (if married) get motivated to do a stepparent adoption if the non-custodial parent insists upon exercising parenting time.


I have 2 children with me ex-wife. I have not seen them since 2006 because I joined active duty military. While on deployment, my ex moved and failed to keep me or the FOC up to date with her information. I have currently asked to have them visit me at my home. The moderator that we had told me "noone in their right mind would send your children to see you." The reason being the fact that I have had no contact with them in 4 years. My ex has also recently started a reevaluation of income which could possibly result in my support being nearly tripled in the amount I pay. Any ideas on what I can possibly do to help myself and my current family?

Jeanne M. Hannah

See other comments and responses in the adoption posts on this Blog. Unless you have a step-dad waiting to adopt, the court will not allow a termination in parental rights. However, after you are married, if a petition for adoption is filed and your child's father will sign a consent, the adoption can go through (after a home inspection and criminal record search).


I have a three year old son by my ex. I left him well over a year ago, and since then, he has only seen my child what...? Twice? The last time I let him see him was prior to Thanksgiving of 2009. When I brought my son home, he complained that his "butt hurt" and that "daddy touched my butthole." Dumbly I did not pursue pressing charges, but my ex is a convicted sex offender, yada yada. Not a very decent person. He has recently agreed to signing over rights on my son, and I am getting married within the next year. In order for him to legally sign him over, do I have to be married first for my fiance to adopt him?

Jeanne M. Hannah

There is a "Self-Help" section on the Michigan Courts website. You can read all about emancipation of minors here.

Once your son reaches the age of 18, either he or your husband can file a petition for adoption without obtaining the permission of the biological father.


My ex husband and I have been apart for 5 years and divorced for 3. I married as soon as my divorce was final. My ex has a 3rd degree felony conviction for abusing my oldest daughter who was his step daughter when she was 15. He has had mininmal to do with my 2 kids that I have with him since then despite the visitation agreement. He lives 3 hrs from me and was supposed to have them 1 weekend a month. He only pays child support because I pursued it being directly taken from his national guard check. My son has for the last year not wanted anything to do with his "father" more appropriately the sperm donor. My ex won't sign off on him but doesnt take any steps to be there for his son either. We were told that when my son turns 16 he can petition the court to imancipate himself from his real father and have by husband adopt him. Is this true?

Jeanne M. Hannah

Amber, no Michigan court will terminate parental rights unless there is a stepparent adoption. Just be sure that you are very careful. You might want to read some of the articles I have written about domestic violence and the importance of making a safety plan. Click on these links.

You should keep your address confidential and ask your friends and relatives to do so as well.


My ex-husband was convicted of unlawful imprisonment (against me) and I was just advised that he will be released on parole in a couple months. When he was sentenced, he was ordered to have no contact with my daughter until further order of the court, so since he held me captive, he has had no contact at all with my daughter (it's been more than 3 1/2 years now). He is to be on parole for at least 18 months, and part of his parole provisions is to have no contact with my daughter nor myself. I read that in Michigan if a child's parent is in prison for 2 years or more that the court may terminate parental rights if: the parent has not provided proper care and custody for the child AND there is no reason to believe that the parent will be able to provide proper care and custody within a reasonable time considering the needs of the child. I have received no financial support of any form since his incarceration. I am wondering if I am wasting my time and money by filing to have his rights terminated or not. Thank you in advance for any help you can provide.

Jeanne M. Hannah

The short answer is "No."


My sister-in-law is in a constant battle with her ex over parenting time and child support. He refuses to pay support and sees the children as it suits him. In addition, he keeps filing motions in court just to cost her money. Recently he approached her saying he would be willing to terminated his parental rights (which would be best for the children anyway). She does not have a step parent waiting to step in, but my father-in-law has agreed to sign whatever is necessary saying he is willing to take financial responsibility for the children. Can it be done this way?

Jeanne M. Hannah

Michael, if your ex-wife's husband wants to do a stepparent adoption, then yes, you could consent to that. If he is unwilling to do so, then I suggest that you contact the Friend of the Court and petition for enforcement of your parenting time rights. If you have one of those awful parenting time provisions "The father shall have such parenting time as the parties mutually arrange and agree," then petition for specific parenting time since you have been unable to agree and you have been unable to enforce the PT.


I have a question, I've been denied visitation to my son for over 4 years but I've been paying support until recently. My ex-wife has got remarried and I'm sure that my son only knows him as dad by now. Is it possible to give up my parental rights so that my son doesn't suffer in the end?

Jeanne M. Hannah


Unless you have a step-father standing by ready to adopt, you will not be able to terminate your child's father's parental rights. If you can do a steep-parent adoption, then the adoption specialist in your county may be willing to explain to you how to serve him "by publication."


Hello i have an question i have an 3 1/2 old child, the father abondoned the child when he was 3 months old since then there has been not contact, at all with me or the child. i do not know where he work, or live it's like he has dropped of the face of the earth. With that how can i terminated his rights for me son if he is no where to be found

Carlie Loose

Hi I have a question. I am eighteen years old and have a two year old son. My sons father did not sign the birth certificate and has never seen him, or tried to see my son once. I just got a letter in the mail from his lawyer saying that I have to be at court on June 15th because he wants to establish parenting time and lower his child support. The father has a criminal background, drug abuse background,and has had court mandated anger management classes int he past, and recently tried to commit suicide. He never finished high school, he is nineteen right now. Is there a good chance he will get any kind of rights. I am very scared of what he would do to my son if he got frusterated with him, or someone else. He is not a stable person. and Also how do I prove that. I dont have a lawyer for this court date either.


The best way to find out whether the judge in your county would grant a step-parent adoption in a case with your fact (living together for 5 years, but married for only 1 month) is to call the adoption specialist at the family court in your county and ask him or her whether the judge has granted such relief in the past.


I see above that you told someone that they don't need to use the 2 years of lack of regular and substantial support and 2 years of lack of regular and substantial parent-child relationship if the other parent is willing to consent to a termination of her parental rights. My ex hasent seen my children in 5&1/2 years, and he is $64,392 in the arrears. He has agreed to sign over his rights but recently in an effort to speed up the proposed adoption process he filed a motion for parenting time, it was thrown out. My husband and I have only been married for about 1 month but we have been together for 5years, my children actually believe that he is their father. Would any court grant our step parent adoption, given his history and willingness to sign over his rights, even though my husband and I havent been married for the 1 year?

Jeanne M Hannah

Hello KTH,

I was sitting in court yesterday and saw not one, but two moms in your situation . . . same dad . . . and he has another child by a third woman. Made me want to rush out and buy him a big box of condoms and save the world (or a small corner of it).

The first mom wasn't married. That sounds like you. The referee, who is just so nice to folks who aren't represented by counsel, explained that public policy doesn't allow parents to terminate parental rights to avoid child support or contact. The only time termination is allowed is when there is a step-parent in the wings wanting to adopt.

I say ignore this guy. Too bad if he goes to jail. If he threatens you, get a PPO.

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