Stepparent Visitation Rights
In the United States, approximately 65% of remarriages involve children from previous marriages and approximately 60% of remarriages end in divorce. According to recent estimations, one in three Americans is a member of a stepfamily. If you are a stepparent, you understand that the bond developed between biological and non-biological parents can be equally strong. Unfortunately, stepparents may not be granted all of the same legal rights as biological parents. Stepparents may feel helpless about the decisions made by the court. Many stepparents are deeply concerned with the impact that the divorce will have on their relationship with the children involved in the divorce. We can protect your stepparent rights and pursue visitation.
What Are My Legal Rights?
According to Colorado law, individuals with nonparent standing (such as stepparents) may assert custody of a child after the individual has had custody of the child for six months. This is a result of the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act. Furthermore, a trial court may grant visitation privileges to a stepparent when that stepparent has acted in loco parentis. Loco parentis means "in the place of a parent," and refers to an adult acting as the child's parent.
If you need help understanding Colorado law regarding blended families or want to pursue visitation with your stepchildren, we urge you to speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
Obtaining Visitation as a Non-Biological Parent
Although state law allows stepparents to request visitation rights of their stepchildren, actually obtaining the legal right to spend time with your stepchildren may be challenging. Generally speaking, courts understand that families are complicated and parent-child relationships are built on more than shared DNA. A variety of factors may contribute to the court's decision to grant a stepparent visitation rights.
The court may ask you questions such as:
- How much did you participate in the child's life?
- What was your level of significance in the child's life?
- How long did you act in place of the child's biological mother or father?
- What are the emotional ties between you and your stepchild?
- Was the child financially dependent on you?
- Will the child be adversely affected by your absence?
In the United States, it is easier for stepparents to obtain visitation rights than legal custody after a divorce. In many ways, stepparent visitation rights are comparable to grandparents’ rights. In recent years, state legislators have begun to enact laws allowing grandparents visitation rights after their child divorces his or her spouse. Now, stepparents are demanding the same legal privileges. These laws are designed to safeguard these relatives' relationships with children in the event of a separation or divorce.
At Feldmann Nagel Cantafio PLLC, we are ready to fight for your rights as a stepparent. Our primary objective is to protect your relationship with your stepchildren.
Call our office today for more information about your rights as a stepparent.