Do Stepparents Ever Have Rights in a Divorce?

In cases of divorce involving stepchildren, our Friendswood family law attorney can advise you on your rights to custody and visitation.

Close relationships often develop between stepparents and stepchildren, which can be just as strong as the bond biological parents and children share. Unfortunately, in cases of divorce, a stepparent’s rights to custody and visitation are not guaranteed. However, there are legal actions stepparents can take that can allow them to remain a part of the child’s life.

Legal Rights of Stepparents in Child Custody and Visitation Proceedings

According to advocacy group The Stepfamily Foundation, more than 50% of children living in the United States share a home with a stepparent and more than 1300 new stepfamilies are forming each day. While the opportunity to learn from past mistakes often contributes to the success of second or third marriages, disagreements and disputes can easily arise that can land you in divorce court.

Unless they have taken the legal steps to adopt a stepchild, stepparents are still seen as disinterested third parties in Texas divorce proceedings, with the focus centered on negotiations between the child’s biological mother and father. However, this does not mean that you have no rights when it comes to maintaining a relationship with your stepchild. While you may not automatically be included in divorce-related parenting plans and child time-sharing proceedings, you can file a suit requesting that you be allowed to maintain an active and engaged role in your stepchild’s life.

Steps You can Take to Remain a Part of Your Step Child’s Life

Depending on the situation, you may have spent years sharing a home with your stepchild, forming a relationship that rivals any experienced by a biological parent. The thought of seeing this relationship terminated due to an impending divorce can be painful and traumatic, both for the stepparent and for the stepchild involved.

In some cases, you may be able to negotiate visitation arrangements with your spouse, particularly if you can convince them that it is in the best interests of all the parties involved. However, this approach still provides you with no legal rights, and the other parent may renege on the agreement at any time.

The other option is to file a separate lawsuit alongside your divorce, specifically requesting child custody or visitation. Under Section 102.003 of the Texas Family Code, you may be entitled to file this type of suit if you resided with the child as their legal guardian and provided for their care and support for a period of at least six months or more.

Let Our Friendswood Divorce Attorney Help You

At Scott M. Brown & Associates, we provide the trusted legal guidance you need when dealing with complicated issues surrounding divorce. To discuss the options available in your case, contact our Friendswood family law attorneys and request a consultation today.

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