Overview of Stepparent Rights

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Best Orange County divorce attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmModern families are different because it is common for divorcees to remarry and combine their two families. Usually, step and biological parents will share the responsibilities while raising kids. However, step and biological parents have different rights, under California law.

During marriage

Unless a stepparent adopts the children legally or if the stepparent has right to custody, stepparents have limited rights. Usually, biological parents retain legal custody and rights of their children. Although stepparents can be involved in the decision processes, according to California law, biological parents have the last word.

Visitation after divorce

In the best interest of the children involved in the divorce, courts in California can somewill grant the stepparent visitation rights. However, the right to visitation can never conflict the right to visitation or custody given to the biological parent.

Courts believe that if too many people have visitation rights, it can negatively impact children. However, if there are no biological parents who have visitation rights or joint custody, a step parent who has strong relationships with the children can prove that visitation is best for them.

Custody after divorce

Under some circumstances, the step parent can obtain custody of the children after a divorce. If the step parent legally adopts the child/children, then the step parent will retain the right to physical and legal custody of the child/children. The step parent will have this right even if he/she isn’t with the biological parent.

However, if the biological parent emotionally and physically abuses their children or if the biological parent consumes alcohol and drugs, and the other biological parent is unavailable, the step parent may gain custody.

Legal guardianship

If the biological parents are unable to look after their children after the court took away their parental rights or because they passed away, the step parent can apply for legal guardianship, under California law.

The court will ultimately determine what type of custody and visitation agreement works in favor of the children, not the biological or step parents. However, step parents can make arrangements with biological parents, if they want to remain involved in the lives of their step children.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

Tips For Becoming A Better Step-Parent For Divorced Kids

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce lawyer; The Maggio Law FirmIf you’re a step-parent who’s in charge of step-kids, then it is needless to tell you how hectic and tough it can become to handle them. Children exhibit a variety of emotions and sometimes it becomes hard to understand what their true feelings are. As a step-parent, you can only put on your best behavior and hope that things get better as time passes. However, it does not always work out and you need to put in extra effort to make sure it does.

Here are some tips to help you become a better step-parent:

  1. Don’t make too many drastic changes

Changes are difficult for children to accept and more than often it negatively affects them if the changes are too drastic. The very reason that you’re in the house means that there are going to be certain changes and the child knows that. So, take it easy and make one change at a time.

  1. Make changes before you marry if you can

The best way to allow kids adjust to the change is by making the changes before you get married. And since you’ll be around the children for most of the time, they will slowly get used to the change.

  1. Don’t create excessive rules

It is understandable that you want to create rules and impose them on your step-children as part of your parenting guide. But making too many rules can have a negative effect on the kids. When you’re moving into the family, don’t make any rules at all. Instead make everything fun and interactive. Once you connect with your step children, you can teach them certain rules which they should follow around the house.

  1. Don’t be stern

Never ever make the children feel like they’re in a military camp. Be easy on them and even if they make mistakes or create trouble, handle the situation peacefully.

  1. Don’t try showing extra affection

Children are quick to find out who is fake and who is not. If your plan is too show too much affection the minute you lay eyes on them, then in all likelihood, that plan will backfire. Keep things as natural as possible.

Conclusion

It’s a new life for you but your step-children don’t want to feel the same way. They just want the comfort of their mom and dad and as a parent it becomes your duty to make sure you understand them correctly.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.

 
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