families

Law
4:12 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Stepparent adoption not possible in joint-custody case

Credit Michigan Supreme Court

Stepparent adoption just became more difficult in the state of Michigan.

The Michigan Supreme Court has upheld a state law that says a stepparent cannot adopt a child if the biological parents share joint custody.

In the decision, Justice Brian Zahra wrote that stepparents wanting to do so would have to be married to a spouse with sole legal custody of the child. That means going back to court and petitioning for sole custody before the stepparent can adopt. 

Debra Keehn is a family law attorney in Ann Arbor. She said the added legal step is going to make adoption more difficult for families.
 
"All of that takes a lot of time and a lot of money and it puts a big financial burden, I think, on a family who’s trying to increase the security of a child."
 
The court ruled in the case of a couple who divorced in 2009.

The mother remarried a year later and petitioned to have her new husband adopt her child. She argued that the child's father had not made contact or sent any money in over two years. But the ruling said she would have to petition a court for sole custody of her child before her new husband could adopt.

The court's decision was unanimous.

– Reem Nasr, Michigan Radio Newsroom

9:47 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Relatives trying to cope with the child welfare system lack representation

Lead in text: 
There's one attorney for every 21,000 low-income Michigan citizens. That's according to the Michigan Bar Association. And that lack of representation hits hard for relatives of children in the foster care system. State of Opportunity's Sarah Alvarez has been following the case of Vanessa Moss, a grandmother struggling financially to take care of four children. Faced with their removal from her home, where do people without resources turn for legal representation?
For every one of the 13,000 kids, there is a specific story behind what landed them in foster care in the first place or how their life will unfold afterward. The same can be said of their parents or the adults who stand in for parents. Many of these adults can feel just as trapped in the system as the children.
9:18 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Putting the 'giving' in Thanksgiving for metro Detroit's kids

Lead in text: 
Jennifer Guerra met up with kids and parents from Myers Elementary School as they made their way into New Hope Baptist Church in Wayne. There's more than turkey on the menu with smiles, hugs, and non-perishable household items going to help out the kids and their families---90% of whom are making their way below the poverty line. Myers' school motto is, "Be Respectful, Be Responsible and Be Safe," but State of Opportunity also learns how "be grateful" made it on the list, too.
New Hope Baptist Church in Wayne, Michigan is doing its part to help ensure that students from a nearby school don't go hungry this holiday season. "We just wanted to show some love," says Virgil Humes, the church's pastor. We want to "show them that we believe in helping the community, and those that might not have a thanksgiving meal, we wanted to show them that we can serve them a Thanksgiving meal so that certainly they won’t be hungry."