Divorcing with kids is hard -- especially when these kids aren't biologically yours. Even if you and your spouse have chosen to part ways, you may not want to sever the relationships that have grown between you and your step children. However, unsure of your rights, you may be reluctant to seek custody of (or even visitation with) your former step children. As a former step parent to minor children, what are your rights? Must you pay child support in order to see your children? Read on to learn more about your legal options.
Can you seek custody of a child who is not biologically yours?
When determining custody and visitation arrangements, judges hold paramount the best interests of the child. If you can demonstrate that your former step children would suffer without you in their lives, you'll likely be granted visitation rights--permission to see your children on a regular basis--potentially even having them spend the night at your home.
Being granted custody of your former step children is another matter. If your ex-spouse already shared custody with his or her childrens' parent, it's unlikely that a court will split this custody three ways. This would involve setting up a complex legal structure that would give you shared power as the legal guardian of these children -- along with their biological parents. However, if your former step children don't have another parent in their life, the court may deem it in their best interest to split their time between your household and your ex spouse's and allow you to make decisions on your step childrens' behalf while they are in your care.
Will you be required to pay child support in order to exercise visitation rights?
Child support and visitation or custody are two separate issues, and neither one is contingent on the other. If you've been awarded visitation and assessed child support, your ex-spouse cannot withhold visitation, even if you fail to pay child support. And in some cases, a parent may be required to pay child support even when visitation is restricted or denied by the courts. However, unless you are a child's biological or adoptive parent, it's unlikely you'll be ordered to pay child support--and even if you are, this support will be handled separately from any custody or visitation issues. You may be granted visitation without being required to financially support your former stepchildren or spouse.
For professional legal help, contact a law office such as Hofheimer Family Law.Share
10 July 2015
Divorce is never an easy situation. For fathers, it can be even more stressful because it is more difficult to obtain custody of the kids. Having gone through a divorce myself, I learned quite a bit about the additional steps that fathers should go through to ensure that they have a fair chance at gaining custody of the kids. My site is filled with the tips and advice that I received from my lawyer and other fathers that have gone through the same thing. Hopefully, what you learn on my site will help you achieve the outcome that you hope for.