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Visitation Rights: Do Stepparents Have Any?

Dealing with the process of gaining visitation rights in Greenville becomes challenging. Many stepparents consider their stepchildren as their own, yet when it comes to legal rights they face complications. During a marriage or even after divorce, stepparents do not get the same rights as biological parents. If a stepparent adopts their stepchildren, only then they can have the same legal rights as biological parents.

However, upon divorce, stepparents can get visitation rights. In South Carolina, the divorce rate was at 2.9 per 1,000 which has decreased since 1990 when it was at 4.5. However, this still means complications in custody cases. Speak to our experienced child custody attorney to know more about your rights.

Stepparent Visitation Rights in Greenville:

To request custody and visitation rights in Greenville, a person has to establish that they are the child’s de facto custodian according to the Children’s code. This should be established with convincing and clear evidence. To become a de facto custodian, you must be the financial supporter and primary caregiver of the child. It should also include the following:

  • If the child is under three and you have lived with the child for six months or more
  • If the child is older than three and you have lived with the child for more than a year or more

Even over the objection of the child’s natural parents, South Carolina courts allows visitation to individuals who can prove that they are the child’s psychological parent. You can prove psychological parenthood through the following:

  • If the child and you lived in the same household
  • The natural parents allowed and fostered the parent-like relationship between you and the child
  • If you have taken significant responsibility for the child’s care, financial support, development, and education
  • Due to your parent-like relationship you developed a bonded and dependent parental relationship with a child

Biological Parents’ Objection:

The biological parents can show objection over stepparent visitation. In this situation, it is always best to provide convincing and clear evidence that visitation would be in the child’s best interest. As a stepparent, you can establish that denying visitation could be detrimental for the child.

Stepparent’s Legal Rights to Stepchildren:

In certain situations, legal rights to stepchildren can be provided to a stepparent. It can be achieved through adoption. The non-custodial biological parent must give up their legal rights to the child so that the stepparent can successfully adopt their stepchild.

You can also get legal guardianship of your stepchildren. However, the process becomes very challenging when the biological parents are present in their child’s life and they are competent. A stepparent is allowed to act in place of a parent when the biological parents are unfit to care for the child or they are deceased. It happens in rare circumstances.

In some instances, children are more attached to their stepparents as their stepparents are more involved in their lives than their biological parents. Children develop a close relationship and a loving bond with stepparents.

Stepparents & Parental Rights:

Even if a child lived with a stepparent since birth, a stepparent cannot get parental rights automatically when they divorce the child’s biological parent. According to the law, a stepparent does not have any legal right to make decisions for a stepchild. Without the consent of the biological parent who has legal custody of the child, the stepparent cannot seek medical care for the child or pick them up from school.

If both the biological parents have shared joint-legal custody, as a stepparent you will need their consent before any legal decision-making you do for the child. The authority can be revoked anytime to make the decisions related to your stepchild.

If you and your spouse get a divorce, you won’t have any legal right to obtain visitation with your stepchild. This decision will be taken by your ex-spouse. In certain cases, a judge can award visitation rights to a stepparent. Judges oversee whether the separation of the stepparent with the child could damage the emotional and mental well-being of the child.

Hiring an Experienced Attorney:

Being a stepparent, if you want to gain visitation rights in Greenville it is your responsibility to prove that it’s in the best interest of your stepchild. It is an overwhelming process especially if the biological parents have an objection. Hiring our experienced family law and child custody attorney can help you to build a strong case. We will help you in gathering convincing evidence to achieve successful outcomes. We have the right skills, knowledge, and expertise.

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