Does a Stepparent Have Any Legal Rights?
04 December 2022IN: Child Custody
In a divorce, both parties have the right to custody of the children they created together. But what if they are stepchildren?
Marriage brings about a lot of positive emotions. You have a lot of love for your spouse. And if your spouse brought children from a previous relationship into the marriage, you might have a strong bond with them as well.
You may know that the role of a stepparent is not the same as the role of a biological parent. Still, many stepparents play an important role in providing a loving environment for their stepchildren.
This can be a complicated situation if you and their parent divorce down the line. You may have watched the child grow up, and now you have to leave the marriage for some reason. What happens next? Do you have any parental rights to the stepchildren? Will you be able to maintain your relationship with them? Read on to find out what rights you have under Tennessee family law.
What the Law Says
Stepparents are given rights to visitation of a child under Tenn. Code § 36-6-303. The court is authorized to order stepparent visitation if a stepparent presents a petition to the court, visitation has been denied by a parent, and one of the following situations exists:
- The child’s parent and the petitioner are divorced.
- The parent of the child is deceased.
- The whereabouts of the child’s parents are unknown.
- The court of another state has ordered visitation between the child and the petitioner.
- The child and petitioner maintained a significant relationship for a substantial period of time before the divorce.
The most common situation is that the marriage between a stepparent and a child’s biological parent ends. In this situation, the stepparent may petition the court and seek visitation rights with the child. The stepparent would have to prove to the court that visitation would be in the child’s best interest. The stepparent would be required to provide financial support for the child.
In the absence of a divorce, if the stepparent has established a strong bond with the stepchild and the other biological parent is not in the child’s life, the stepparent may petition the court to adopt the stepchild. However, the birth parent’s parental rights would have to be terminated before the adoption could occur.
However, some courts are unaware that stepparents have rights under the law. Make sure you have a knowledgeable family law attorney on your side to help you prove your case.
Contact Our Tennessee Stepparent Visitation Rights Attorney
After being in a relationship for some time, stepparents often develop a close bond with their stepchildren. But what happens when the marriage ends? What rights do they have to continue seeing the child?
The Law Office of David L. Scott can help you understand the Tennessee laws that apply in this situation. We are committed to helping you get the best legal outcome possible. To schedule a consultation with our office, call (615) 896-7656 or fill out the online form.