Here’s the Story of a Lovely Lady…
We are all familiar with The Brady Bunch, the beloved television show from the ‘60s. The story is delightfully set up in the opening by its catchy theme song—you might be humming it in your head right now. The complicated family dynamic of a father of three boys one day meeting the mother of three girls, hitting it off, and ultimately becoming one big happy family may have been a lot to take for 1960’s John Q. Citizen, but today, remarriage and blended families are common.
Unfortunately, that tends to complicate things if the partners go their separate ways.
With a bit of creative liberty, we can imagine Mike and Carol breaking up after a year or two. Perhaps the endless stream of preteen angst and growing pains, thrown in with a few too many wisecracks from Alice, might have been too much for Carol and the girls. Which leads to the question: What rights do Mike and Carol have to each other’s children?
In the ‘60s, not much.
In the past, stepparents didn’t have many legal rights to their spouse’s children. But as modern life and the definition of “family” has evolved, states began passing laws that observed the role of stepparents in children’s lives, and their increased responsibilities therein.
With regard to visitation rights, here in California, the law defines a stepparent as “a person who is a party to the marriage that is the subject of the proceeding with respect to a minor child of the other party to the marriage.” This ruling affects your status as a stepparent seeking visitation rights in the eyes of the court. In order to make a visitation request, you must be legally wed to one of the biological parents. If you are not married, you have no standing to make that request.
However, there are several other considerations to keep in mind. What is the adoption status of the child? What happens if a child’s biological parent has passed away? What about child support payments?
The rights of a stepparent are complicated, and no one should tread lightly into that role without legal assistance. At Huguenor Mattis, A.P.C., we’ve been helping families settle legal issues in the San Diego area for over 35 years, and we offer this list of helpful child custody FAQs.
For information tailored to your situation, please give our San Diego child custody lawyers a call at (858) 458-9500 to set up a free consultation today.