It is becoming more and more frequent for a stepparent to be part of the couple that supports a “family”. Stepparent’s often play an important role in their stepchildren’s lives; not only helping with the financial support of the family but in the raising and upbringing of the children involved. New stepfamilies form every day and less than half of those marriages survive; the rights of stepparents after divorce is a new development in matrimonial law and is considered to be the challenging new issue in family law. It is becoming more common for stepparent visitation to be incorporated into a Stipulation of Settlement when the stepparent and child have developed a strong and lasting relationship.
After the dissolution of a marriage, stepparents may have standing to sue for visitation (and in rare situations for custody) but are required to prove extraordinary circumstances in order to be successful. Standing refers to the rights of the stepparent to be heard by the court on a particular issue; and is determined by several factors:
- Degree of detriment to the child if the stepparent is denied visitation
- Existence of any relationship and emotional ties between the stepparent and child
- Length of time the stepparent participated as an actual parent for the child (with or in place of the child’s natural parent)
- Amount of financial support and assistance provided by the stepparent
Similar to parents of a divorcing couple suing to visit grandchildren, giving way to the legislation of grandparent visitation laws in almost every state, stepparents are now making the same strides to keep their relationships intact with their former stepchildren to which they have formed a bond. Most court’s make determination based upon the best interest of the child. If the court feels that the stepparent enhances the child’s life or improves the child’s welfare visitation is usually granted.
At The Law Offices of Ian S. Mednick, P.C. we are extremely proficient in showing all the facts and painting the picture with the accuracy needed to obtain a favorable decision. These cases can be very challenging but the outcome could be extremely rewarding.