Do You Have to Say Goodbye to Stepchildren in a Divorce?
When couples divorce, it obviously impacts more than just the husband and wife. As families are broken apart, children may experience anxiety over the future of their relationships with one or both parents. And while there’s no minimizing the effects of divorce on biological children in a divorce, stepchildren often face even greater consternation. With a no legal or biological connection to these children, what is the future of their relationship with stepparents? A local family law attorney can assist with these and other questions you may have.
How Stepchildren Feel
When a parent-figure is in a child’s life, whether it is someone related biologically, a friend of a biological parent, an adoptive parent, or a stepparent, that individual can have a major impact on the child. Clearly, the age of the child and the length of the relationship are central to how a child may feel about that adult. Other factors that come into play include:
- The role the adult played in the child’s life and the amount of caregiving associated with that person;
- The attitudes toward the actual divorce exhibited by family members;
- Feelings the biological parent has about the child maintaining a relationship with that person;
- The child’s belief as to who constitutes a family member in their life.
Obviously, children who view adults in their lives as kin are more likely to desire a continuing relationship, regardless of biology. Research suggests that when children view an adult as a parent, there is a strong likelihood of continuing the relationship into adulthood. However, since there are generally no legal ties connecting these adults with their stepchildren, continuing a healthy relationship will have to be a decision that has broad support among the parties involved.
What is Best for Stepchildren?
Certainly, many individuals would prefer to end interactions with a former spouse altogether. But is that what is best for the children? Consider the fact that in many cases, a stepparent was present for the majority of a child’s lifetime. Ripping that relationship to shreds just because you can may not serve anyone’s best interests. Instead, consider giving children the gift of having another loving adult to share in the nurturing that those children so desperately need as they grow and develop.
If You’re Denied Access to Stepchildren
If your former spouse delivers the crushing news that you are no longer welcome in the children’s lives, what recourse do you have? Unfortunately, you may not have strong legal standing, although it is something an aggressive attorney can explore. Other options you might consider include:
- Involving grandparents in the discussion: they may have witnessed the stepparent/stepchild relationship and value it. Perhaps their input with your ex could soften the stance of your former spouse on this matter;
- Consider sharing your concerns with the other biological parent if possible. Might there be an opportunity for that individual to share custodial visits?
Best Outcomes Possible
At the office of Derek L. Hall, PC, our experienced legal team is on your side. Whether you’re most concerned about stepchildren visitation or other issues, we are the heavy hitters who will go to bat on your behalf. Contact us in Jackson today for a free, confidential consultation.