Q:

Do stepparents have any rights?

A:

Stepparents do not typically have any legal rights to their stepchildren including visitation rights, but there are a few exceptions. If the stepparent is the only remaining parent to the child and the child and stepparent have a good relationship then the court may grant the stepparent custody of the child.

The court is also interested in hearing from the stepparent about any possible reasons why a parent should not have access or a relationship with a child whether that is abuse or neglect. Before a court will listen to a stepparent, however, the court must review the case and see that the step parent has "standing." Standing is granted by looking at several factors including the length of time that the stepparent has been involved in the child's life, the degree of the stepparent's involvement in the child's life, the existence of emotional ties between the stepparent and child, the degree of detriment to the child if the stepparent does not have visitation and the amount of financial support provided by the step parent.

One way for a stepparent to get rights over their stepchild is to legally adopt the child with their partner. A child that has been legally adopted by a step parent will have the same rights as the child's biological parents. A stepparent who has legally adopted his or her stepchild can make decisions about the child's education and medical care just as a biological parent would.


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