COA Puts Brakes on Step-Parent Adoption; Reverses TPR | Speaker Law
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COA Puts Brakes on Step-Parent Adoption; Reverses TPR

Posted on Tuesday, May 8, 2018

In the case In re Michael Robert Benbow III, Minor, the COA reversed an order of the Clinton County Family Court terminating a father’s parental rights in a step-parent adoption case. The Trial Court based its ruling on the fact that the father failed to substantially support the child for more than two years pursuant to MCL 710.51(6)(a). Specifically, the court found that the father failed to make payments during a large portion of time between July of 2005 and July 2007. However, the court neglected the fact that his obligation to pay support was abated due to incarceration for most of 2005. When the ordered obligation was reinstated the father began making his child support payments regularly, with the exception of a few months. The trial court failed to consider the “substantial compliance” portion of MCL 710.51(6)(a) in terms of compliance with the support order that was in place, as directed by the statute. Instead, the COA concluded that the trial court made its erroneous finding by incorrectly considering the time period in which the support was abated. Consequently, the Court reversed the termination order, thus putting a kibosh on the step-parent adoption.

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