step parent legal rights

Laura - posted on 12/26/2008 ( 5 moms have responded )

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You know i've tried looking it up but I just get confused. I live in michigan and I am wondering if anyone knows what a step parent's legal rights are. Also can step children be legally adopted without removing the bio mother's rights? If not how hard is it to remove her rights considering she's already lost one child to the state, and not followed through on custody provisions in the divorce requiring her to complete a rehab program and attend parenting classes. I just don't want anything to happen to these kids if my husband has some sort of unfortunate accident. It's not that the bio mom would be ambitious enough on her own to take the kids, but her parents would push her to do so and pay whatever cost it took. Bio mother has not seen the kids in 3 years and basically has had only sporadic phone contact with them (once every few months) which basically disrupts their lives. Anyway if anyone has any info please let me know.

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Michelle - posted on 12/28/2008

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On your own, you do not have any rights at all. Now your husband can go to the court to request some rights be granted to you, like pick ups, school and medical records, but those rights will never be put above the bio parent's rights.

With the mother being unfit, you can request a court date for contempt of court order. Personally, I would offer a deal, sign the rights away so you can adopt the child, and all court orders be nulled. She might be willing to sign the rights away to get out of being fined if not jailed for failing to follow court orders. But mostly, keep a record of everything. From phone calls, behavior, visits, everything. With a well detailed record, it will be a lot easier to get her rights taken away.

From what I have heard, it is really hard to get a mother's rights taken away. It is a real fight and the best way is with detailed neglect, abandonment, abuse, etc. I have seen druggie moms that have been able to keep their rights, I have seen mothers get so drunk they end up killing one of their kids, keep their rights to the surviving children. It mostly depends on the state you are living in, what their rules are, and the judge you get presiding over the case.

I met the other day a stepmom that actually won custody of her stepkids over BOTH biological parents. So it can happen, it is just a fight.

Erin - posted on 12/27/2008

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If she has been proven to be an unfit parent you can strip her of her legal rights. I'm not sure you can adopt the kids without her consent though, I would definitely check with a lawyer and get things rolling, for the kids sake.
Good luck honey be strong!-

Sarah - posted on 12/27/2008

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not sure about where you are but I'm in australia and have raised my step sons since 3and 5 years of age now 10 and 12 and having sought legal advice in the past was told I would be allowed access in the future by a court but it would be a hard case to prove that the kids should remain in my care even though they have a sister now. Pretty hard to understand considering the country is fully willing to let be be fully financially responsibile for then now but they don't give me any rights in return. It's a frustrating situation for sure

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I'm sorry I don't have any advice or info to help out. I've actually been wondering the same thing with my situation. My husband has joint legal custody and visitation of my five year old step-daughter, but as we've continued to have issues with her mom, I've wondered about if anything happened to him how me and her six month old sister could still be a part of her life. I believe her mother would cut us off unless she felt she could gain something like money or life insurance. If anyone knows, let us know!

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