A Divorce Attorney Helps With The Quest For Stepparent Visitation Privileges

A divorce attorney can provide legal service for stepparents wanting to continue seeing the children after the marriage ends. Some spouses try to block this effort so they don't have to maintain any contact with their soon-to-be ex. Yet when stepparents and the spouse's children have bonded, it's in the best interests of the youngsters to continue that relationship. 

The First Step

Legal rights regarding stepchildren is a complicated legal issue. State laws vary to a large extent. Often, stepparents have no intrinsic visitation rights, even if they have lived with the children for years. If the biological parent denies the request, the lawyers of both spouses will probably encourage them to participate in collaborative or mediation sessions. The goal is to come to an agreement rather than go to court.

Documenting the Agreement

If the two manage to complete a successful negotiation, the visitation arrangement must be documented with the court. Visitation then is considered court-ordered. Otherwise, the stepparent's new privileges are at risk of being lost in the future. Without official legal documentation, there is no effective way to contest an ex-spouse's disruption of the visitation schedule. In contrast, when the visitation is court-ordered, interference with these meetings is considered contempt of court.

Petitioning the Court

If sessions are unsuccessful, the stepparent is allowed to file a petition with the court requesting visitation. A divorce lawyer can write this document and file it with the court. A judge makes the decision for the divorcing couple. Although the stepparent may have no legal rights regarding this matter, family court judges focus on the best outcome for the children. Ending what is essentially a close parent-child bond will likely be considered unreasonable and emotionally unhealthy.

Presenting Evidence

The lawyer must present evidence to convince the judge that the relationship is rewarding and vital for the youngsters. The attorney will discuss the number of years the family lived in the same household. Details of shared activities would be offered. Witnesses such as neighbors, relatives, and close friends could testify to confirm the positive connection.

If the kids are adolescents, they might testify about their wish to continue seeing the stepparent regularly. It's important to consider whether they are mature enough to handle speaking on the stand in court and answering questions from lawyers and a judge.

Individuals who are facing the end of a marriage and want to maintain relationships with their stepchildren may contact a divorce attorney for a consultation. For more information, reach out to a local law firm, like Thompson Salinas Londergan, LLP.