Every family is unique. It is not unusual for a stepparent to play an important role in the life and upbringing of a child in the family unit. In some families, many step-parents have provided more love and support than the biological parent that came before they ever did. And despite this, their rights are comparatively limited next to those of the biological parents.
California does allow for certain rights to be rewarded to stepparents. If a step-parent wishes it, they may seek visitation rights with their stepchildren after divorce (but only if they were legally married to the biological parent). Courts seek to do right by the children and will attempt to act in the child’s best interests. The courts will consider whether or not the stepparent is a positive influence on the child’s life when making decisions about visitation rights.
What Are the Rights and Responsibilities of Stepparents in California?
In California, the law will always favor biological parents when it comes to legal custody rights, and this means both biological parents. However, stepparents can petition the court for visitation rights. The courts want to limit the emotional trauma to the children as much as possible and will take a petition under consideration.
Stepparents have no legal obligation to financially support their stepchildren, unless in some cases where the stepparent has elected to pick up some of the same legal responsibilities as the biological parent.
Things are made more challenging when one or more biological parents are against the stepparent having visitation rights. In this case, the stepparent’s legal representative will argue in family law court why the stepparent staying in the stepchild’s life is best for the child.
What Happens After the Passing of the Biological Parent?
If the biological parent passes away, the custody of the stepchild could possibly revert to the other non-custodial parent and not the step-parent. If a step-parent decides to legally adopt the child, then custody rights are more likely to remain with the step-parent.
In some cases, after the death of their spouse, the step-parent can petition the courts for custody of the child. The courts will then decide what is in the child’s best interests. It is strongly recommended to hire a dedicated professional in family law.
How Can Family Law Attorneys Help Me?
Whether you’re a stepparent looking to adopt or are seeking visitation rights with your stepchild, you will want strong legal representation in court. Matters of family and law are complicated and sometimes messy. The Bains Law Offices have experience in helping their clients reach favorable outcomes in their cases. Call us at 559-890-1007.