Do I Have Any Rights To See My Step Children After I Divorce?

Stepparents and children often develop very close relationships. You may have entered the life of a child who desperately needed a father and you were there for him or her. Now, you and the child’s mother are divorcing. The impact on the child may be devastating. It would be great if the mother recognized the need for an ongoing relationship and made it work, but this isn’t always the case.

In this Divorced Fathers Rights guide we discuss whether you have any rights to see your step children after divorce.

The Rights of Stepparents

Unfortunately, stepparents have few rights to visitation or see their stepchildren. Few states have any laws establishing those rights. Few courts will mandate rights in a divorce decree. If you’re divorcing your spouse, the threat to the relationship with your stepchildren is very real. Find out the laws in your state and ask the court to consider your request for visitation with the stepchildren.

Options for Maintaining a Relationship with your Stepchildren

You’re going to have to work out the relationship outside the court system in most cases. First, discuss the situation with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Offer to continue to be a part of the children’s lives. Stress the closeness you’ve developed with the child. Ask the parent to discuss the situation with the kids and get their input on a relationship that is important to them. Even if she is angry over the divorce, she may see the value to her children of you remaining a part of their lives.

It may help the parent be willing to allow you to spend time with the kids if you offer to do it in a neutral place. Start with picking them up for an activity and pizza. If things go well, in time the parent may be supportive of longer visits, possibly in your home for an overnight stay as if you were the biological parent with visitation rights.

If the parent is reluctant to allow you to visit, consider offering financial support of the kids if you have the means. If you were their biological father, you would be required to provide financial support. Offer that same type of support in return for visitation with the children. Don’t think of it as bribing the parent or paying for time with the children. Think of it as doing whatever it takes to make sure the children get what is best for them.

If the children’s parent is reasonable, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to work out something that allows you to continue a relationship in the best interest of the children.