Family Law Attorneys

Custody and Visitation Rights of Stepparents

Many time stepparents play key roles in the upbringing of a child, but, they do not always have visitation rights unless they are requested and awarded. Divorces are usually challenging and custody or visitation rights are not always a given.

When joint custody is awarded, it allows both natural parents joint obligations and responsibilities, and visitation. However, you may have gotten married again, stepparents (a/k/a non-custodial parents) have no visitation rights when the natural parent is not available. In fact, a stepparent's visitation rights are not ordered unless requested and proven to be worthy.

If a natural parent is not present during their scheduled visitation, the courts may decide that the child is better off with their natural parent instead of the third party, even if it's the best stepparent in the world regardless of the circumstances or time that stepparents has been in the child's life. If the absence of the custodial parent is routine, you may want to consider petitioning the court to modify the visitation schedule to allow the stepparent visitation. Similarly, if the natural parent specifically disallows a stepparent from visitation with the child, nothing can be done without a modified court order granting visitation to the non-custodial parent.

One possibility that stepparents have is that they can petition the courts to modify the visitation rights for the child by proving why it would behoove the court to grant you such visitation rights. It can be challenging and there is no guarantee that the court will rule in your favor, as the courts will consider what is best for the child.

Before petitioning the court, "standing" must be proven. In other words, you must prove your right to be heard in court on your case. Below are examples:

  • How long have you been in the child's life?
  • How involved are you in the child's life?
  • How close are you with the child?
  • What type of support (whether financial or emotional) can provide the child?
  • What harm will the child bear should you be denied visitation? How will it affect the child?

For more information on your rights to visitation, please contact us today. We look forward to hearing from you and advocating your every need.