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The Rights And Responsibilities Of Step-Parents After Separation

Step-parents tend to have a bad reputation in fiction, but in real life, they often play an important part in their stepchild’s life. If they separate from a child’s biological parent, questions arise over their rights and responsibilities to the child.

Do I Have Rights To See The Child?

If you are a step parent, you can work with the biological parent to agree on an arrangement to see the child. In order to reduce the chances of future conflict, such arrangements should always be made in writing and signed.

If the parent will not consent to let you see the stepchild, you will need to take the matter to court. You can apply to become the child's guardian or you can apply to the court to adopt your stepchild.

The court will always look to the best interests of the child before deciding whether you should become a guardian or the adoptive parent of the child.

Step-Parent Responsibilities

You may be obligated to pay child support for the child in the situation that:

  • You were married to the child’s parent or were considered common-law for at least two years, and
  • The child lived with you.

You will not have to pay child support unless:

  • You supported the child for at least one year while you had a relationship with the child’s parent, and
  • The child support application has been made within one year of the last time you supported the child.

Although a step-parent may be required to pay support for stepchildren, these obligations are only triggered after those of the child’s parents or guardians have been fulfilled.

If you are a step-parent, the lawyers at Peterson Stark Scott can provide you with legal advice about your rights and responsibilities.

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