A step-parent does not automatically have rights to their stepchild
If you desire parental rights before or after a divorce, there are options.
Family law Macedon Ranges does leave room for a step-parent to have visitation rights.
Looking for a lawyer that practices family law, Gisborne, will help you with your rights as a step-parent.
The role of a step-parent
A step-parent is a non-biological parent that’s in the child’s life.
As a step-parent, you may become a vital part in their day to day upbringing.
Step-parents do not automatically have rights or legal responsibility for the child. You have no legal standing to make medical or other decisions — unless you have been granted those rights by the court.
Family dynamics are important to the proper raising of children, though.
Rights as a step-parent
There are a few ways for a step-parent to obtain legal parental responsibilities.
Your partner who has parental responsibility for their child may file guardianship for you.
This can be done if both parents agree, and you have been sharing day-to-day care of the child for at least one year.
A step-parent can obtain guardianship of their stepchild upon the parent’s death, if the parent states it in their will — making you a Testamentary guardian. A testamentary guardianship can be contested by the surviving parent and reversed as the court sees fit.
You can also file for a parenting order or adoption of the child. This may be granted if it’s in the child’s best interest
If you have not obtained parental responsibility during marriage, legal intervention will be needed to continue to be in the life of your stepchild.
One way to do this is through a parenting order. This can allow special time for you to talk to the child, go to school functions, spend time with them, and participate in their health or education.
A parenting order may even grant you custody of the child in certain cases — when it’s in the child’s best interest.
A court may order you to pay child support for your stepchild depending on how long the marriage lasted, the type of relationship you had with the child, the financial standing of the biological parents, and how the child was financially supported during the marriage.
Finding the right lawyer
When seeking a lawyer, always do your research.
Check to ensure they have all the necessary knowledge and certificates.
Check references online or ask family and friends if they can refer someone.
Talk about all the details of your case to ensure they can help — they may also have additional ideas.
Ask about retainers and fees.
As a step-parent you may not have as many rights as a biological parent, both during marriage and after divorce, but you still have rights.
A step-parent can be a vital part of a child’s life.