In Texas, do Stepparents Ever Have Rights in a Divorce?
Under Texas law, there are situations in which a stepparent may defend his or her rights in child custody proceedings.
Going through a divorce is stressful, no matter the circumstances. It can be particularly painful when there are children involved. As the result of your breakup and depending on any child custody arrangements made in your case, it can impact your relationship with your children and your rights as a parent for years to come. This is particularly true in blended families, where a stepparent may have played an active part in raising a child. Just because you and your spouse are getting divorced, it does not mean you have to surrender your role in your child’s life.
Stepparents used to get a bad rap in books, movies, and television shows. However, as divorce and remarriage became more widespread, attitudes toward them have changed over the years. According to statistics from the Pew Research Center, more than 20% of children now live with either stepparents or stepsiblings in their home and they often form relationships with them that are just as loving and close-knit as they would be if related by blood.
Unfortunately, these families are not immune to the problems and disputes that cause other couples to seek divorces. In the past, stepparents had little recourse in asserting any type of parental rights or inclusion in child custody and visitation arrangements during divorce proceedings. Today, the courts are more inclined to recognize this important relationship. However, it is important to recognize that defending your rights as a step parent can be an uphill battle, one that requires having an experienced Texas divorce and child custody attorney on your side.
When a couple divorces in Texas, child custody proceedings focus on parenting time arrangements. While stepparents may be viewed as ‘third parties’ with fewer legal rights or claims to the child than a biological parent or blood relative, they can file suit in these cases provided certain circumstances exist. Under Section 102.003 of the Texas Family Code, stepparents may file with the court for legal visitation rights in the following situations:
If the stepparent had actual care, control, and possession of the child for at least six months and not more than 90 days prior to filing;
If the stepparent lived with the child and the birth parent for the above period of time;
If the stepparent had previously been named as a potential adoptive parent to the child;
If the birth parent is otherwise unable to provide for the child.
John Powell III, P.C. can provide the legal guidance you need when dealing with issues concerning stepparents, visitation, and custody arrangements. To request a consultation regarding the options in your specific case, call or contact our Texas divorce and child custody attorney online today.