Getting a divorce is a difficult undertaking, and for divorcing couples with children, getting a divorce can be that much more challenging. This is especially true for stepparents, who may want to have visitation with their stepchild, but are unsure of their legal footing when it comes to seeking parenting time. If you are a stepparent who is getting a divorce, here is a look into what you need to know regarding your rights to time spent with your stepchild–
Can a Stepparent Seek Custody or Visitation with a Stepchild?
There are certain situations where a court may award a stepparent visitation with, or even custody of, a stepchild. Indeed, a stepparent has the right to petition the court for custody of a stepchild when:
- The parent who would otherwise have the majority of parenting time (i.e. the biological parent of the child) is deceased, disabled, or otherwise unable to provide care for the child;
- The stepparent has been providing for the child’s care prior to the dissolution of marriage proceedings;
- The child is of an age where they can–and do–express a desire to live with the stepparent; and
- The stepparent being awarded the majority of parenting time (custody) is within the child’s best interests.
In many cases, however, a stepparent is not seeking full parental responsibilities regarding a child, but rather visitation with the child. When this is the case, the stepparent and the biological parent may come to an agreement about shared parenting time outside of court. If the biological parent does not wish for the stepparent to have any visitation with the child, the stepparent may petition the court. In order for the court to grant this petition, the stepparent must prove that the denial of visitation is not only unreasonable, but that it compromises the best interests of the child by causing mental or emotional harm to the child.
Work with an Experienced Family Law Attorney in Illinois
If you are a stepparent who is being denied visitation with your stepchild, the bad news is that the courts are often hesitant to award visitation when a child’s biological parent is opposed to the visitation. While it is possible to persuade a court to award visitation (or even custody) when it is within the child’s best interests to do so, this is an uphill battle that should not be engaged in on one’s own.
At the law offices of Fay, Farrow & Associates, P.C., we know that stepparents are often “step” in name only; stepparents are often primary caregivers who love stepchildren as if they were their own biological children. If you are seeking parenting time with your stepchild, our lawyers are here to represent you and fight for your rights. To schedule a consultation with our law firm, please call us today or send us a message electronically. We serve the areas of Wheaton, Downers Grove, Aurora, Lisle, Lombard, and Naperville.