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What Rights to Custody Do Step Parents Have?

Although it is possible for stepparents to request custody or visitation of a children who are not biologically theirs, it can be a challenging process. There are some ways in which the law treats stepparents similarly to natural parents, as a step parent has likely played a significant role in the child’s life. In other situations, however, the natural parent’s rights will take precedent.

One of the major issues in a stepparent achieving custody or visitation rights is the idea of “standing,” or that parent’s right to even have his or her case heard in court. In a situation involving stepparents, there are several factors that come into play:

  • How involved that stepparent has been in the child’s life
  • How long the stepparent participated as an actual parent in the child’s life in place of a natural parent
  • The existence and strength of the relationship between a stepparent and child
  • How much financial support the step parent provides to the child
  • Whether there could be a detriment to the child if the stepparent is denied custody or visitation

Stepparents are, in general, more likely to receive visitation than actual custody. Approximately half of the states in the nation have laws that authorize stepparent visitation, with additional states having processes in place to allow them to petition for it. New York allows for stepparents to petition for these rights.

The lack of a blood relationship, however, is a significant barrier to overcome when seeking custody rights. Natural parents must be clearly unfit for custody if a court is to place the children in another home.

To learn more about the rights of stepparents and other important family law issues, speak with a knowledgeable Long Island child custody attorney at Bryan L. Salamone & Associates today.

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