Legislation that would make it easier for step-parents to adopt their spouses' children is heading to Governor Snyder's desk.
A step-parent cannot adopt until the non-custodial parent's rights have been terminated.
For that to happen, if the non-custodial parent has not voluntarily agreed to termination, the custodial parent must show that for more than two years, the non-custodial parent has failed to provide child support and has not had contact with the children.
The legislation would reduce to one hearing what usually used to require two.
"Judicial proceedings are often expensive and time consuming," said state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R- Lawton, who sponsored the bill. "And requiring two separate trials or hearings means an additional burden is placed upon both the families and the court system."
According to Schuitmaker, the legislation does not change the two-prong standard required for terminating parental rights, and the court hearing still gives the non-custodial parent the chance to offer rebuttal evidence, including that the custodial parent interfered with his or her relationship with the children.
"This legislation will simplify the process of step-parent adoption and ensure that children have the opportunity to be raised in a complete and loving family," said Schuitmaker.