In the past, blended families were more of an anomaly than a “normal” situation. More couples stayed together in the past, at least until their kids were adults and out on their own. Now, blended families with children from prior relationships are quite common in the U.S., giving the population plenty of diversity.
Unfortunately, subsequent marriages can fail just as first marriages can, leaving stepparents and stepchildren devastated. The field of family law has come to understand the importance of these non-biological relationships. As such, courts in New York and elsewhere recognize that stepparents do have rights regarding stepchildren.
Judges presiding over child custody and support matters sometimes grant stepparents visitation rights after a divorce. However, the stepparent must make a strong case to win these rights. Below, you will find a few of the issues courts considering when making their decision.
- Degree of harm the child may suffer without visitation
- The emotional relationship and level of involvement between the stepparent and child
- The amount of time the stepparent filled a parental role in the child’s life
- The degree of financial support the stepparent provided
American courts take a serious approach to visitation, child custody and support. For example, if one of the child’s biological parents does not want the stepparent to visit with the child, the court will likely disallow visitation unless it would harm the child.
Wanting to continue a meaningful relationship with your stepchild is a morally praiseworthy goal. You can improve your chances of success by seeking guidance from an attorney with experience in child custody and support matters.