In a rather unusual case out of Illinois, a stepfather is currently fighting for visitation rights and custody of his former wife’s adopted son.
The couple, Nicholas G. and Miki M., married in 2009, when Miki M. was in the process of adopting the child. The couple was married for about a year before divorcing.
Subsequent to the dissolution of marriage, Nicholas G. sought to secure visitation rights/custody of the child. However, a trial judge denied his petition, and the case is currently pending before an Illinois appellate court. The child is now 3 years old.
Lawyers for Miki M. argued before the trial court and the appellate court that Nicholas G., a former assistant attorney general and now a prosecutor in Wisconsin, is lacking standing to sue for visitation/custody because he has no legal relationship with the boy.
Specifically, they argue that the stepfather could have filed a stepparent adoption petition to become the boy’s legal father, but he did not.
Lawyers for Nicholas G. argued that Miki M. treated him as if he were the boy’s father — even using his last name on the boy’s birth certificate — and that he relied on her word that he was the boy’s father. He classified the failure to file the stepparent adoption petition as a “hyper-technicality,” meaning he simply never got around to filing it during the brief marriage.
The couple was originally a blended family of five. Miki M., a registered nurse, had an adopted daughter before the couple married. The 3-year-old boy that is the subject of the legal proceedings is the middle child, and the couple also adopted the youngest child together.
The panel of appellate judges asked questions that implied they may uphold the trial court’s ruling. In particular, one judge asked what relief the court could provide when Nicholas G. had not followed the letter of the law by filing for stepparent adoption while the couple was still married.
The appellate court gave no indication as to when it will reach its final decision.
Stay tuned for updates on this story from our Ft. Worth family law blog …
To learn more about child custody, visitation, or adoption rights, contact an experienced and skilled legal professional.
This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Names have been withheld to protect the identities of the parties.
The Chicago Tribune, “3-year-old adoptee at center of unusual custody fight” Jan. 29, 2012