When you fall in love with and marry someone who already has children, that usually means the children become a part of your life as well. In the vast majority of cases, your role as stepparent will be to provide your spouse with practical and financial support in raising the children.
You may need to familiarize yourself with the terms of the parenting plan if the other parent still has shared custody or visitation rights.
However, there are situations in which a stepparent does more for a child than is typical. These situations could include scenarios where the biological parents of the child are now deceased, as well as situations in which the other parent has effectively abandoned their responsibilities as a parent. That could lead you to want to adopt the children. These situations create different stepparent adoption scenarios.
Choosing to step up as a stepparent and become a legal parent to the child or children that your spouse brought to the marriage is noble and worthwhile. Adopting the children can ensure that the children will receive adequate health benefits. It offers other forms of legal protection for the children as well.
When one parent is already deceased or has never been named officially, it is relatively simple to adopt a minor child while married to their parent. Provided that your spouse approves and you don't have any criminal record that will make the courts worry about your interactions with a child, the application process and court dates will likely be relatively straightforward. It is unusual for cases like this to become extremely complicated, but it can still happen.
Choosing to adopt your stepchildren is more difficult if your spouse's ex still has a legal role in their lives. Typically, the courts will not authorize the adoption of children that have biological parents available. However, it may be possible to have the other parent sign off or revoke their custody.
While Michigan law does not typically allow for parents to waive their parental rights and responsibilities, the courts may make an exception for cases of stepparent adoption. Regardless of whether the biological parent is in jail or simply does not want to fulfill their duties to the children, it may be possible for you to legally adopt the children.
Families are complex, and adoption can be tricky even in the simplest of scenarios. If you feel that stepparent adoption is your best choice for your family in Michigan, the sooner you seek legal advice, the better.
There is no black and white answer about how to secure a stepparent adoption, so you will likely benefit greatly from the advice of someone who has already been through the process successfully.