Many family law practitioners were shocked when, in the case of In re AJR, the Court of Appeals construed the provisions of MCL 710.51(6) to mean that a stepparent adoption could not occur when the parents of the minor child at issue shared joint legal custody. This holding (affirmed by the Michigan Supreme Court on June 25, 2014), became a complete bar to stepparent adoptions in situations where parents share joint legal custody. Because joint legal custody is routinely granted by courts -- even in situations where the non custodial parent is not involved the child -- this holding added a new step to the adoption process by requiring that a parent with joint legal custody to petition the court for sole legal custody. As practitioners know, the threshold for changing custody is not an easy one to clear. The decision in AJR thus made it significantly difficult for anyone to obtain a stepparent adoption. This changed in September 2016 when the Legislature amended the statute.
When The Kidnapper Is Also The Parent
When unmarried parents have a child, there are sometimes additional hurdles to jump through in order to show that the man is, in fact, the biological father of the child. Proof of parentage is important for a number of reasons, including establishing visitation rights or child support responsibilities. But if one parent is not amenable to the paternity determination, a paternity dispute often results.
When parents are not married, there is no assumption of parentage, and it may become necessary to determine the paternity of a child. Under a previous Michigan law, the husband was presumed to be the biological parent of children born during marriage. But this law no longer stands. Michigan's governor recently signed a new law that allows biological fathers the ability to pursue their rights as a parent.