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My question is in regard to terminating parental rights. My sons father (if you can call him that) has not seen him in the past year. Prior to that he saw him only a few times. He has not been compliant with the court order and has not paid any childsupport. There is a bench warrant for his arrest as well. He contacted me today and said he does not want to be a parent (not that he ever acted like one) and wants his parental rights terminated. How do we go about this? The reason I would like this to happen is because I do not feeli it is in my sons best interest to have this guy pop in/out of his life on a whim...he brings nothing to my son

Dee Sample

Hi jeanne
I'm the mother of five children, four with my husband. My oldest son who's now 11 yrs. old is by someone who I had a one night stand with. This person (bio father) has not seen my son in six years. In 2005, he took me to court for parenting time stating that he would like to see him every other week. The courts only take $10.80 per week from his check, but recently on facebook he posted that he is working and lives in Saint Clair Shores, MI (see where I'm going?). I don't want child support if you can call it that, I don't want anything but his rights. I've been married for four years come July 16 and my husband wants to adopt our son. There has been no contact made, no visits although the agreement was put into place. He is the type of person that believes it is the womans obligation to contact him, bring him the child etc... I wanted to find out would my husband be able to adopt my son? Thanks

Jeanne M Hannah

Dear curious,

This is a question that you will have to ask the adoption specialist in your local probate court. It is possible that the judge may accept this. Or the judge may find a family court in the location where the father lives to hold a brief hearing and sign off on the consent. Recently in an adoption I facilitated, the father was in prison. In the back of the consent form, you'll see where in that case, there is a process whereby the father can sign the consent in front of a notary (the prison legal liaison). Interestingly, the adoption specialist (AS) wasn't familiar with this process, so the adoption was delayed because the thought the judge would not approve the consent.

You may need to be persistent (polite but persistent) and ask the adoption specialist if he/she would check with the judge about this.


I have a question, my husband and I are starting step parent adoption process and my child's biological father is willing to give up parental rights, he lives in Canada, we live in Michigan. My question is, would a notarized letter from him saying he gives up parental rights be enough for the court? Thank you!

Bala Cynwyd Divorce Lawyer

I recently came across your blog and have been reading about Divorce Reasons I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often..

Jeanne M Hannah

Ashley, name changes must be done through the court system. You can find some good help by Googling >

The process is not difficult and the fees are something like $150 plus whatever is required for issuance of a birth certificate with the change.


Dear Jeanne - my daughters bio father agreed to letting me change her last name to my married name. Do I have to go through the court system or can I process the paperwork on my own? I understand I would have to get his signature, etc but I would like to bring paperwork to our next visitation to have him sign before he changes his mind. Please help!!! Thank you so much, Ashley


Jeanne, I have guardianship of my 19 mo. old niece. I have had her since she was about 2-3 months old. The father has agreed to let us adopt her but the mother still thinks she can get her back. In the time that we have had her the mother jumps from place to place and never has a job. The court is now making her pay child support (which I don't think she will). She doesn't rarely see her daughter or call. What are the rules for terminating her rights so my husband and I can adopt her. Are they the same as you have stated above or are they different because she is my niece and not my child? I am so tired of all of the drama and just want her to have a normal life. Thanks in advance for your help!


Hi Jeanne,

So glad to have found your Web site - it is very difficult to find state-specific information on the Web! I live in MA with my 2-year old son and am engaged to be married in the next year. My son's bio-father lives in MI. He pays child support (what he can - he's a student with low income, so most of it is going in arrears). He's never met his son - he left the day I found out I was pregnant and I've seen him once in court since. I know he'll happily give up his rights since it would mean he wouldn't have to pay child support any longer. My fiance wants to adopt my son - I've been told that MA will do the adoption sine that's where my son lives. Will the bio-father still have to pay arrearages? From what I have read on your site, the answer seems to be "yes, unless you come to some sort of agreement with the father." But I am wondering if the interstate nature of my situation would effect this at all?

Jeanne M Hannah

Dear Anonymous,

This is one of those times when I have to deliver the bad news. Your husband played and he may have to pay. If she does not place the child for adoption or terminate her pregnancy, he's gonna get stuck with child support. He should demand a DNA test, though. Perhaps he is not the biological father.


My husband and I were split and he had a relationship with a young woman who lied about birth control. She is now pregnant and is stating he is the father. He has tried to talk to her about other options but she will not give in. He doesn't want anything to do with her nor the child. How does he go about refusing his parental rights??

Jeanne M Hannah

Ashley, I do not know the answer to your question. Normally an adoption is done in the county where the child "is found" -- meaning where the child lives.

Ashley A.

Jeanne - there is a catch. I mentioned in my previous post that I was requesting a change of domicile. My husband is Canadian and we relocated 2 hours into Canada (London, Ontario). Who would I file with - Wayne County or would I have to go through the Canadian government? Sorry to throw a wrench into the mix!

Jeanne M Hannah


Clearly you and your husband will fall within the adoption code requirements for a step-parent adoption. Please call me at my office to discuss how you may go about that. 231-275-5600

Jeanne M. Hannah

Ashley A.

Jeanne - I have been doing hours of research with no avail. Please listen to my story...I have a 8 year old daughter and her biological father has not seen her in 5+ years. He is $9500 in arrears through Friend of the Court. He is in and out of drug rehabs/half-way houses. Has active bench warrants for not showing up to previous court hearings. We recently went to court for change of domicile and that was granted - in my favor. Now he wants to have visitation. My husband wants to adopt her. What is the likelihood of this happening? Please help!! Thank you for your time!

Jeanne M Hannah


If you feel in the least bit threatened, get a personal protection order. You would want to do this after he contacts you, not before -- just to establish credibility. It doesn't sound as though he has a location for you at this time.

If, on the other hand, you have verifiable information that he has located you and tried to contact you or your son, then you would want to file for a PPO. Here are the forms. You can do this yourself and there is no filing fee.


Seven years ago I had a boyfriend. He became abusive and among many other things I was sexually assaulted by him. I left only to find out that I was pregnant. He did find out about this, but my son is now six years old and they have never met. I had a PPO on him for the first year after I left but I left the state for a couple months and I didn't want to alert him that I was back and our son was born so I didn't renew it. He has tried to check up on me from time to time over the years but I hide well. Then I was reading a couple news articles about him yesterday that said he broke into the home of his new infant son's mother and from that night alone he has been charged with third-degree child abuse, unlawful imprisonment, interfering with 911 communications, second-offense domestic violence, (second offence against her, I was stupid along with a few other women and didn't charge him) assault and battery. She and another woman and his son were injured that night. Then the next article says he "was bound over for trial on a charge of bribing, intimidating or interfering with witnesses." (My son is also diabled by the way.) So my question is, if I were to be faced with him again how could I get him cut off from us instantly? Have I ruined myself by hiding from him in the past? The more I watch from a distance the more violent he is getting.

Jeanne M Hannah


You will find the answers to your questions in this article about step-parent adoptions in this article on Updates in Michigan Family Law.

Jeanne M Hannah

Heather Seymour

My husband and I have custody of his 3 children. I as the step-mother have done more with these 3 children in the past 5 years than their biologival mother ever has. She has not seen her children since October 2008 and we are in the process of filing a motion to suspend her parental rights due to a recent incident where she was arrested for selling drugs out of her home and contributing them to her 16 year old daughter and others. Her condition of court was to move out of her town and not to return. We live in Michigan and she moved today over 400 hundred miles away. i love these kids dearly and they want nothing to do with their biological mother (if they did we would surley let them see her). I want to adopt and this is what they want. How likely is that to ever happen for us?? Also she has not paid child support in months and next month there will be a bench warrant out for her.


My 3 year old daughter's biological father (my ex-husband) left well before she was born and has not ever laid eyes on her, nor has he made any attempts whatsoever to do so. In the only letter that I have ever received from him since my daughter's birth, he refers to her as my child (not by name, even) and basically says that he doesn't wish to have anything to do with either of us. I currently hold sole physical and legal custody.

I am remarrying in a few months and after we have been wedded for a year (two?), we wish to terminate my ex's parental rights so that my new husband can adopt her. The only "catch" may be that my ex, not of his own volition but through court ordered income withholding, has been paying child support regularly. Does this pose a problem for us in seeking the termination and adoption? I understand that one option might be to contact my ex and ask him to "sign off", but I don't think that would be doable in this case as the ex is almost completely incommunicado and uncooperative (even the divorce was obtained through default). In addition, he lives several states away. Please let me know what sort of a battle we might be looking at, so that we may begin saving for the legal fees accordingly. Thanks.

Jeanne M. Hannah

Tom, you 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 she is willing to consent to a termination of her parental rights. She could consent, and might do it under certain circumstances. You point to a waiver of her arrearages. The statute doesn't allow you to promise her anything of value in exchange for her consent, but that doesn't mean that she can't consent and then you can waive the arrearages. It's a matter of trust. Jeanne M Hannah


Dear A.C.C.

Where do I start? I have joint legal/joint physical custody of my 4 1/2 year old son. He has lived with me for the past 2 1/2 years. I am happily married now with a 2 month old daughter from my wife. We have stable income and our kids have nothing to worry about. My son has been attending school since he was 3 (head start program and now pre-school). The problem is obviously the mother. I easily got custody because she had burned him with cigarettes on 2 different occasions (accidental) he once fell down our cement porch steps and cut up his face VERY BAD and once our neighbor brought him home when he wandered 3 houses down while in her care. She has 3 children total. Her 13 year old daughter lives with the BF (he has full custody). I have her only son and her youngest daughter is less than 6 months old and lives with her. Her youngest daughters father is currently in Oakland county prison for his 4th cocaine manufacturing/distributing offense. Her house was raided, he and her brother were taken away. She currently owes me over $5,600 in back child support and a felony arrest warrant has just been issued to her. She has a seizure disorder as well. She has supervised visitation rights but hasn't called the center to set up the visits and hasn't seen our son since mid May 2008 which makes it 8 months. I see no need in wasting money on going for sole legal/sole physical custody if she doesn't even try to see him. Here is the question...She meets the child support requirements for termination of parental rights but do I have to wait 2 full years (without her seeing him) before requesting termination? My wife has been in his life more than his BM. My wife is willing to adopt and I'm willing to waive the $5,600 and ALL future payments if I can get the rights terminated. If she fights me won't she go to jail for felony non-support and then they'll take her youngest daughter away as well?

Jeanne M. Hannah

Hello Angela,

The chances are excellent that your husband will be able to adopt your child. Most states's adoption laws are derived from the Uniform Adoption Code. In that law, if a biological parent does not maintain a regular and substantial support and parent-child relationship for the 2 years immediately preceding the filing of the step-parent adoption petition, the parent's rights can be termination and the adoption will occur. All states will require that the adoption take place in the State where the child resides. Therefore, contact your AZ probate court in the county where you reside even though your "legal residence" for the purpose of the military is likely in Michigan.

Angela Findley

Hi I have a few questions in reguards to my 27 month old. I am now married to a man in the Air Force but I have a son from a previous relationship and his biological father wants to terminate rights. He's had nothing to do with him since he's been born. My husband is willing and wanting to adopt the said child. My questions likely is it that we will be able to do this? How long will it take? And we no longer reside in MI, we're stationed in AZ now so would we have to go back to MI for it or is there some other way? Thank you so much for your time.

Jeanne M Hannah

Dear A.C.C.,

In a step-parent adoption, the judge will always ask you for the name or names of all men who could possibly be the biological father of your child. The court will order DNA testing of any men you name who state that they are not the father. If there is no biological father in the picture, the court will grant the step-parent adoption.

You may get a consent from the biological father to an adoption. Often, as attorney for the mother in a step-parent adoption, I ask the biological father to give his conent. Usually, the father is happy to consent when he doesn't have a parent-child relationship and wants to escape any child support obligation.

It seems odd to me that your divorce decree states that your son is not a child of the marriage. The judge would have had to established this through testimony from both you and your husband about lack of access and/or impossibility.


my divorce decree states that my ex husband is not the "biological father" of our son even though he was born during our marriage. what i want to know is this: my (new) husband wants to adopt my son (he has been around since my son was 9mths old - now 3yrs old) DNA has never been established, will my husband be able to adopt under the stepparent adoption or will my son have to go through DNA testing with whom i say is the "sperm-donor" (which could also include my ex)



I'm involved in a paternity fraud case whereby I was told I was the father of a child that through DNA has been proven not to be mine. I have been paying child support for eight years even though I do not see him. I would like to terminate my parental rights to the man that has been very involved in the child's life since birth. This man does not have a relationship beyond friendship with the child's mom, but would like to adopt this child and have more of a legal voice in the child's life. Can I relinquish my rights to this man? Does the mother have to agree to this?


My husband and I have custody of his daughter, his ex-wife plans on moving out of country in October. She wants to terminate her rights and stop paying child support. The courts here in Michigan love to make things difficult. We are in the UP, she is downstate. The courts tell her down there we have to go down there to do it. The courts up here say there is a form the courts print off and she fills out, goes in front of the judge etc. Can you tell us where to go or what to do?


all my other questions were answered just by reading all the above.. my most important question would be how long after a couple is married does it take to be able to start up a step-parent adoption?


My ex husband has not seen, nor contacted my daughter in almost 2 years. He pays his Child support just enough to stay out of jail. He has a HUGE drinking problem and was abusive when we were married. (I have had 2 PPO's since our divorce.) My daughter is 3 years old and has NO idea who her "father" is. In the past he has made comments about voluntarily terminating rights. Is this even possible? I would love nothing more than to have his rights gone. Per our divorce, we still have joint legal custody. His visitation was supervised only, but I am scared that he is going to try to see her eventually. He is violent and DEFINITELY doesn't have a stable enviroment for her. Any help is appreciated! Thank You, Amanda

Jeanne M Hannah


The Adoption Code prohibits adoption placement with persons who have been convicted of child abuse or sex-related crimes. All persons wishing to adopt must undergo a criminal check. They must have undergo fingerprinting, and the State checks the prints against criminal records. As long as the crimes have nothing to do with domestic violence, child abuse or criminal sexual conduct, you should be fine. Jeanne



My husband wants to adopt my daughter. He has been her one and only father figure since 6 months of age. Since 2004, the biological father has only seen her at Christmas time with me present. Otherwise, no visits in between, no calls, cards or attempt to form a bond with her. My husband and I have been married for 7 years. In the last three years,the biological father has not had health insurance coverage for her and only paid child support for 6 consecutive months(breaking the terms of his court order). He owes about $10,000 in arrearages as well. My husband spent four years in prison before we met. My questions are as follows: What are the chances a court would terminate his rights so my husband can adopt? Will my husband's prior convictions(B&Es) prevent him from adopting my child?


i was wondering i gave guardianship to a relative for my son. The hearing was only two weeks ago. I came to the conclusion that this was not my decision but the decision that everyone waas telling me to do. i now realize that I made a mistake and I should never listen to what other people think is the best thing to do. My son is three years old and he has been living with them for two and a half years. I was wondering if there was any way to get him back and if so how hard will it be?

Mentor Michigan

I mentor a young lady who has aged out of foster care with the State of Michigan. She became pregnant at age 17 and was a mother at age 18. She choose adoption as she understands that adoption is a wonderful gift. The little girl was born August 11th 2007 and immediately placed in the care of the adoptive family. All of the information provided to this young lady prior to the adoption was representative of an open adoption. Twenty days after the birth of the baby court proceedings commenced. Per the birth mothers communication with the adoptive family, the birth mother was to have brief visits once a month. In a unofficial letter from the adoption agency the birth mother can only visit 2 times a year. This letter was signed approximately 10 days after baby was born.

My concern for my mentee is that she is young, emotional(PPD), and taken advantage in trusting authority directly after giving birth. It has not been a year yet, Does she have any recourse?

Signed Mentor, Michigan

Jeanne M Hannah


What you have heard is correct. The courts will not terminate the parental rights of a biological parent unless the parent is found unfit or you are married and are filing for a step-parent adoption.

Jeanne M. Hannah


Hi my name is Melissa and I have a 4 year old daughter who has only seen her father once since she was three months old. I was wondering if I could somehow terminate his rights as he has never paid child support and she does not know him at all. The last time he seen her was three years ago for 5 minutes. He was very abusive to me and my older son and I just wish him to be out of our lives for good. I am getting married soon but not sure if my fiance will adopt her even though he is technically who she considers daddy. I hear Michigan won't terminate fathers rights without a step parent adoption? Thank you


Jeanne- thanks for the reply. I meet the other criteria in that he has never met my daughter. He saw the back of her head when she was 9 months old but that is all!
I don't live in Michigan but he does and I am not sure who has jurisdiction in this case. Macomb County is the county that has been hearing all the motions and where the support order was signed but 12 years ago I started the case with the local CSE office.

Jeanne M Hannah


Michigan law and the laws of other states that have adopted the Uniform Adoption Code will permit a court to terminate the parental rights of a parent without his consent so that a stepparent may adopt the child if the court can make two important findings of fact:

(a) The other parent, having the ability to support, or assist in supporting, the child, has failed or neglected to provide regular and substantial support for the child or if a support order has been entered, has failed to substantially comply with the order, for a period of 2 years or more before the filing of the petition.

(b) The other parent, having the ability to visit, contact, or communicate with the child, has regularly and substantially failed or neglected to do so for a period of 2 years or more before the filing of the petition.

Since your child's biological father ("sperm donor") hasn't paid support in 2 years, you meet one of the two tests.

To meet the other part of the test for termination of his parental rights without his consent to allow a step-parent adoption, you need to address the question of whether the amount of contact made by your child's other parent is "regular and substantial."

You do not have to waive the arrearages to get a step-parent adoption. Waiving arrearages might occur if you cannot meet both of the two tests -- just to get the consent to the adoption.

Why don't you call me and make an appointment to discuss your case? The specific facts of every case are different, and each case will be decided by a judge according to how those facts and the laws mesh.

Jeanne Hannah


Just wondering if anyone knows if I terminate parental rights on my daughter's "sperm donor" what happens to the arrears amount? He is $20,000 in arrears. I would like for my daughter's "dad" to be able to adopt but I also think the "sperm donor" should still have to pay me what he owes me for the past 12 years.


My question is about guardianship. My husband and I have permanent guardianship of our grandson. His parents were not caring for him properly. They have now gotten married and the dad has joined the Army and the mom says she is going to get my grandson back. How likely is it that she will be able to do this. I realize that she will have a place to live and money coming in, but she still does not know how to parent properly. I am just wondering how hard/easy it is to reverse permanent guardianship.

Jeanne Hannah


I am presently away from my office at a family law conference. I will return on March 5. Please contact me through my email address and I will provide you with any information I may have in my office. Jeanne M. Hannah


I am helping my father look for a daughter he gave his right up for about 36 years ago. He and his wife went through a terrible divorce so he tried to honor and her wishes after the divorce and sign away his rights so that her new husband could adopt their daughter. It has been eating away at him for years to know her so any information would be greatly appreciated so that we can try to find her and let her know the rest of her family.


Brittney Drysdale

I was wondering, If my childs Father wanted to terminate his rights, And i didnt disagree with it, because it was in the best interest of my son. How would we go about doing it, and would he have to fly hear, seeing as he lives in another state, to do it. Or, can we not even do it at all?

thanks for your time


Jeanne M Hannah


There is no way to "divorce" your son. But you could petition the probate court / family court to take jurisdiction over him as a delinquent.

Bottom line: Likely, you will have to pay child support, but it might be worth it to have him out of your house.

Aiesha Mercery

From day 1 to the present (14 years) my life has been awful. I withstood a physically and emotionally abusing relationship with my son's father for the first 7 years, the past 7 years have been a nightmare. From the monthly, yes monthly, FOC motions filed by the still emotionally abusive father to my absolutely disrespectful and early stage physically abusive 13 year old son. He is his father's son! There are so many negative factors unmentioned. My question: is it possible for me to terminate all rights to my son? I don't believe life was intended to be this hard. Do I have any rights as a parent, a human to emotional and and physical well-being? Am I really stuck dealing with this?

Jeanne M Hannah


If your husband is willing to adopt and the father of your child would like to stop being financially responsible, why don't you file for a step-parent adoption? You can call my office to get more information about the process.

Jeanne M. Hannah


I am married, and my eldest daughter is from a previous relationship. I fear that my child will be injured if she continues to go to her fathers house. He only gets her once a month because i feel that he is emotional and pyschologically hurting her. He tells her he will be there to get her and then doesn't show. We get a phone call the next day stating he had no gas or some other type of reason as to why he didn't show. I know he does drugs and i know he drinks. His girlfriend lives with him with her son and she rarely takes care of him. He is either with his father or her mother. I am worried that one of these days she is gonna go over there and he is going to be to high to watch her. She is 5 years old and is starting to ask alot of questions. Please help I want his rights terminated and dont know where to begin or if i even have enough for the judge to grant my wish. My husband wants to adopt her. He has been around her supporting and taking care of her since she was 7 months old, I am so sick of what he is putting her through. Please help me find the answers i am looking for.
Thank you


Jeanne M Hannah

In 22 years of practice, I have never seen a court terminate the parental rights of the other parent where there was no step-parent standing by to adopt the child ore children. There are some few cases where, if the primary custodial parent dies and the other parent is like the two described immediately above, a grandparent or grandparents with whom the child has lived most of his or her life has been named guardian by a court despite efforts by a biological parent (usually father) to get custody.

The best approach is to draft a simple Will in which you name your parents (or your sister or another adult with whom the child has a strong relationship similar to a parent-child relationship) as the guardian upon your death. A Court may not always be willing to grant the guardianship over the opposition of the biological parent, but it can happen if the facts are right.

Jessica Tucker

My son is almost two years old. Paternity was never established and i did not put his father on the birth certificate. His father and I seperated what I was 3 months pregnant because he was arrest for domestic violence. We did not see each other again until my son was born, and 3 months old. He asked if he could see him. I alowed this, it is is father after all. He came by for about two weeks, then just never came back or called again. that was a year and a half ago. He has never provided any child support or help with this child (neither has his family) I want to terminate any rights he might have in the future. I am afraid of something happening to me, and he will get my son. He is getting ready to go to prison right now for a DUI 4th, suspended licence, and forgery/providing false info. I do not have a father to step in as an adoptive parent, but my mother is willing to be co-guardian, or "the father" legally. Will the courts allow this?


My question is... can I legally do the paper work myself to get my ex- husband to terminate parental rights and if not what is the process? My ex-husband has not had any communication with my son in 6 years, not a card, gift, call or anything. He doesn't pay child support. My husband wants to adopt him. My son is 14 yrs. old.

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