Stepparents often play an important role in a child’s life. As the spouse of their biological parent, stepparents may fulfill an important parental role and they play a hand in raising and providing support for the child. Children and stepparents can form strong bonds and become as attached as any other family members.
Despite this, stepparents don’t enjoy the same legal rights as biological parents, especially if they never formally adopt the child. In the case of a divorce, a stepparent and a child might find themselves facing unexpected hurdles and challenges, especially in regards to visitation and getting to spend time together. Which brings us to today’s topic of discussion: what are the legal rights of stepparents when it comes to visitation?
Stepparents’s Visitation Rights Must Align with the Child’s Best Interests
The biggest challenge that stepparents face in this arena centers on the fact that biological parents’ rights will always override theirs, and stepparents simply are not entitled to the same rights. That said, California places the emphasis on the best interests of the child, and if the courts determine that these continued interactions are aligned with this, it is possible for stepparents to be granted visitation rights.
There are a few caveats to this. For once, this has to be effectively argued/demonstrated in court, and if the other parent is not on board this can be an uphill battle. Furthermore, any visitation that is granted cannot interfere with the schedules, plans, or rights of any biological parent. This can make stepparents feel “second-class” in the eyes of the family law courts.
That said, if a stepparent has taken the steps to formally adopt a child before the marriage dissolved, then he/she is fully entitled to all parental rights under California law.
We Can Help You Fight For your Stepparents’ Rights in CA
As you can see, the answer isn’t as clear cut as to whether a stepparent will be granted visitation rights or not. Depending on the factors in your case, you could be facing multiple obstacles that could keep you and your stepchild from interacting and spending time together.
This is why, when dealing with any custody or visitation issues in CA, you need to have the help of an experienced family law attorney. Count on us at the Law Offices of James P. White to help you navigate these complex legal matters.
Call us at 925-271-0999 today to learn more about how we can help. We offer free initial consultations.