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Jeanne M. Hannah

Adam, sometimes it is possible to negotiate with the biological father for a step-parent adoption. Some dads, especially those who voluntarily do not exercise parenting time, are glad to be excused from having to pay child support and would agree to a step-parent adoption, which would end the support obligation and the wage-withholding.

I'd be happy to help you arrange such a plan.

Jeanne M. Hannah

It really depends upon the particular facts of a case. Where there has been domestic violence and particularly if the biological father lives nearby, it's usually impossible for a layperson to handle the termination of parental rights hearing on her own. Your case sounds doable on your own because the father lives so far away and the facts are so clear-cut. See your local probate court for the forms.

Shana Anderson

With regards to a step parent adoption, do you have to have an attorney in order to file the supplemental petition and affidavit to terminate parental rights of non custodial parent? My ex husband has not paid child support in 4 years but the order will reach 2 years on July 1st of this year. He also lives in Maine and hasn't seen or contacted my daughter in about 5 years this October. I need help finding out if I HAVE TO HAVE AN ATTORNEY or can I do this myself?


I can only hope that he decides not to appear; although I think that he would do it just to spite me. It seems like it would be easier for them to not bother with it since they haven't bothered for so long as it is. Thank you for all of the great information that you have given me.

Jeanne M. Hannah

You can ask the court to issue a subpoena that would force the father to produce at a hearing all actual receipts, cancelled checks, copies of money orders, etc. of any child support that he has made in the past two years prior to filing. He won't have any.

As for the contact: You'll have to have a couple of witnesses.

Actually, however, it is rare indeed when any of these "fathers" actually show up at the hearing on the motion. Usually, they do not appear and then the judge terminated their rights.


Thank you for the quick response Jeanne. It is very terrifying to have your past stare you right in the face. It is hard to prove that there has been nothing when there has been nothing (hopefully that makes sense).

Jeanne M. Hannah

To do this legally, you must identify the father, serve him with the petition for adoption and also file and serve the petition to identify him and terminate his parental rights. Moms I have worked with are always reluctant to do this . . . fearing perhaps that this will drive the biological father out of the woodwork.

But remember, if the bio-dad has not had a regular and substantial parent-child relationship and a regular and substantial support relationship within the two years immediately prior to filing of the petition for the step-parent adoption, even if he appears in court to contest the adoption, his rights can be terminated when you prove that he has not seen and has not supported the child in the past 2 months. It is your obligation to prove this.


If paternity was never established and the bio-logical father and I were never married, is it necessary to fill out the Supplemental Petition and Affidavit to Terminate Parental Rights of Non-Custodial Parents form? The bio-logical father has forcefully acknowledged paternity on social networking sites, but has never had contact with now 8 year old child. My current husband wants to adopt her as his own as he has been with me since my 3rd trimester of pregnancy. We recently told her that he was not her bio-logical father and she has no concern whatsoever about her bio dad. She loves my husband, her dad, and wants him to adopt her (she thinks its cool)! Any advice would help. We want to do it legally so that the bio-logical father can never contest the adoption.

Adam Graves

My wife and I were married about 1 year ago, she has a 10 year old daughter I wish to adopt but sounds like we need to terminate the biological fathers rights, he now pays child support through wage garnishment, and months go by without any contact from him. Is it possble for me to adopt her or are my chances completely gone? Both mother and child want me to adopt her. Can you help with the few questions I have... If it matters we live in Allegan county. Thank you

Jeanne M. Hannah

The adoption code provides, “If a person desires to adopt a child or an adult … that person, together with his wife or her husband, if married, shall file a petition with the court.” MCL 710.24(1)
Under that provision, a single man or woman may adopt a child or a married couple may adopt a child. However, as the code is presently written, an unmarried couple of the same sex or opposite sexes cannot adopt a child. Since same-sex persons cannot marry under current Michigan law, neither can they adopt as a couple. Neither can an unmarried biological parent consent to the adoption of his or her child by another unmarried person in order to achieve the goal of two unmarried persons winding up as the legal parents of a child. This is known as a “second parent adoption.” There have been numerous efforts to amend the statute to permit second parent adoptions, but none have succeeded.However, in 2009, the Michigan Court of Appeals decided a case involving two Michigan women who had adopted three children from China. The adoption was accomplished in Illinois, where adoptions by same-sex couples is legal. When the parties' relationship broke up, one of the parents cut off contact with the other parent who then sued for custody and/or parenting time. The Court of Appeals held that since the adoption was legal in Illinois when it was done, then Michigan Courts should recognize the adoption.What may work, then, in your situation is to finalize the adoption in a state that recognizes second parent adoptions.You may read Giancaspro v Congleton, Docket No. 283267 (Michigan Court of Appeals), Unpublished, Decided February 19, 2009 here.

Karrie Snyder

I am wondering if a second parent adoption would work for same sex couples.
Thank you

Jeanne M. Hannah

Nate, thank you for your thorough explanation of how your step-parent adoption process went. What a wonderful result. I believe that many parents will be helped by the information you have provided. It's always a judicial determination whether the parenting time was "regular and substantial" and whether the support was "regular and substantial." Judges have a great deal of discretion in making that determination. I am very happy for your family that you obtained this good result. Jeanne


I would like to leave a comment regarding the outcome of my specific case that I actually posted about here several years ago. My wife and I wanted to terminate the parental rights of the biological father who was a nasty and abusive person. At the time the biggest concern was meeting the criteria of subsection A & B of Michigan law. In our situation the biological father had completed parenting classes and supervised visitations. The next step was to work out a visitation arrangements for the ongoing non-supervised visits. The biological father's goal was control and revenge but we still had to comply as he kept "playing ball" with the system. After refusing our request to take a drug test the judge ordered no visitations until he was willing to complete a drug test! Needless to say much time went by w/ no contact. Our contact information was on file at court but was redacted from all court documents. The biological father needed to contact our attorney or the available address on file if he wished to pursue any communication w/ us or our child. Child support was very irregular and only collected through wage garnishments, tax intercepts, or jailing. We never requested an increase, he actually contacted FOTC and had his support reduced to around $50 a month because of employment issues! The problem we kept facing was 6 months, 12 months, 18 months would pass and he would become employed and we would receive payments through wage garnishments and end of the year tax return intercepts. We ended up going to trial with the biological father contesting the adoption and fully expecting to win based on child support garnishments over the years (he also promised to pursue visitations since we even attempted to terminate his parental rights).

The good news? We won! The judge found that he could have completed the drug test and pursued visitations at any time but did not. Also the contact information available was sufficient even though the biological father did not have a direct address/telephone to reach us. In regards to the child support which was the biggest concern, the judge found that he had regularly and substantially failed to meet the criteria. Specifically, he was in arrears since day 1, large gaps of time went by with no payments (despite gaps being less than 2 years), and he contacted FOTC to reduce his support to a paltry amount that he still wasn't paying. His own testimony worked against him too but I won't get into that.

We waited to file until we had 3 years of no contact, a 2 year window of time where almost 18 months passed with no child support payments, we had been married for more than 3 years, and had 2 other siblings. We prayed an awful lot too.

Jeanne M. Hannah

Angela, a step-parent adoption is certainly a good option in your case. With the non-support and non-contact, you could terminate the father's parental rights and do a step-parent adoption. This is a more complicated procedure than one with consent, so you may wish assistance from a lawyer. Call me if you wish to consult with me.


I have 2 children who my husband wants to adopt.the bio dad owes 47 thousand in arrears and the only contact is weekly calls that we initate.he hasnt visited in 3 years and has been court orded supervised visits.he will not cooperate with the court order so he doesnt visit at all.will the phhone calls ive made happen prevent fulfilling the requirements for step parent adoption?

Jeanne M. Hannah

Robin, only you and your husband can pursue this. Start with the Adoption Specialist at the Family Court in the county where you live. If you need help with this, please call my office and we can help you get started with the process and guide you along the way.

Robin Tugan

in the past we have asked my husbands Ex wife if she would terminate her parental rights. She has agreed to it but no one has ever pursued it. We arent sure where to begin or even if we can start the process or if she has to. She just recently sent me a letter stating that if the courts were going to keep giving her the run around she would get a lawyer and terminate her rights because no one will tell her what to do with her money. We are fine with her NOT paying. BUt from what I have read I will need to adopt the kids in order for her to NOT pay. She lives in Fl. She barley calls once a week and shes only been back to see them 1 time in 10 years. We have taken them to her about 5-6 differant times. Does any of this help us? She just sent our oldest daughter a letter on FB asking them if they wanted a relationship with them. We would never and have never kept her from them or visa versa. thanks

Jeanne M. Hannah

Carla, my answer is coming soon. Jeanne


My sons father died and they recieve survivor benafits from social security if there stepparent adopts them will they still recieve these benafits

Jeanne M Hannah


I always hate to see a court order that provides for no support because it can inhibit a parent's ability to get a termination for a stepparent adoption. I am hopeful that, perhaps, your court order states specifically that the reason there is no child support is because it is to facilitate her ability to exercise parenting time. Combine that with her failure to bother to see the children unless you do the transportation and you may be able to get a termination of parental rights for the adoption. Every case is different, though, and every judge responds differently to this type of request.

I don't suppose that there is any reason why she would consent to a step-parent adoption . . . since she has so few responsibilities with respect to the children. If she would consent, then it would be easy.


What exactly does "regularly and substantially failed or neglected" mean? We would like to get bio mom's rights terminated and have me adopt the kids (3.5, 4.5, 5.5). If my husband has sole custody and CO says we take the kids across the country for supervised visits with biomom, which we do, but she chooses not to come to the kids for her week, would that count? She has the contact/visits that one time, but only because we do what we are supposed to do. She's also calling about every two to three weeks, except for the next 2 months because she's in jail. No support is ordered due to the cost of her coming across the country to see the kids-- which she's not doing. She's supposed to also pay half of the uninsured medical expenses- luckily we've only had $100 worth which we paid and sent her a receipt, but she refused to pay half.

She has also claimed 2 of the 3 kids on her state assistance/food stamps and got caught with welfare fraud (no jail time) and has used the 5.5 year old's social security number to open accounts which she left unpaid. Since she's on the birth certificate she can get the new soc # if we got them changed so that's pointless unless I adopt them. Is that sort of stuff grounds for termination?

Joemaflage Familyrights

A few months ago I testified infront of the house judiciary on a bill that potentially would have been a mess for step parents and bio-parents. Also grand parents and other relatives it was the second parent adoption bill. I testified against this bill however since it was twisted to make it easier for the GBLT community to take children from thier families and give them rights that the people have already voted against thru Prop 2. I think that we need to get the system to promote both parents being actively involved with the raising of children before we just toss one of the bio-parents out the window. The Rood case was just one example of how the system favors one parent over the other at a high cost to the children involved

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