Stepparents, Family Laws and Legal Issues
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Stepfamily marriages are a little different in the eyes of the law. Most couples go into a marriage that has stepchildren hoping to make up for or deal with the pain and suffering endured from their previous family. A few perils need to be considered by everyone involved in the stepfamily and custodial parent. This article will help you identify some of the perils and offer suggestions to minimize them.
Legal Status of Stepparents and Stepchildren
A stepparent is not acknowledged by law. This makes it difficult for a stepparent who wants to take care of the children. Sometimes when a stepparent goes beyond his stepparent role, it usually creates a problem. This includes anything that the biological parent would tolerate or allow. To avoid any problems in the future it is a good idea to outline the amount of discipline and love that should be shown between the stepparent and the child or children involved.
Most stepparents will apply the same type of parenting skills that they are already familiar with and this is not wrong but if it is different from the biological parents then this may lead to a battle down the road.
This may be very difficult for the stepparent who wants to be a part of the child’s life and not be so restricted. When the stepparent acts instead of the biological parent they may be denied rights that a biological parent has; for example, medical treatment. If the stepparent does not have a medical document release form stating that they are allowed to authorize treatment for the minor child then they will be denied. This form can be obtained by an attorney who will prepare the form and then have both the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent, when able, to sign. When authorization is needed for schools or school related functions and other times when a stepparent wants or needs authorization a similar paper can be used. It is important that a stepparent’s role in a child’s life be clearly written for his or her protection.
A Stepparents Will and the Stepchild's Inheritance Rights
At sometime in a couples life it will be necessary to discuss a will. According to the law, a stepchild has no right to a stepparent’s inheritance. If the stepparent dies and does not have a will then the stepchild will not be able to receive any portion of the estate in question. If you want to make sure that, the stepchild receives a portion of the estate then a will must clearly state what the stepchild should receive.
When a biological parent feels that his or her child is being treated unfairly as a stepchild in the will when there are biological children involved, then this situation must be handled in a rational manner. Although this is a very emotional time for everyone, it is something that should be worked out as a family.
Child Support Responsibilities of the Biological Parent
Another issue that is a concern of a stepparent is child support issues. A stepparent may feel as though she or he is paying for expenses that are the responsibility of the biological parent. In order to solve the problem a stepparent would need to take the parent of the child back to court to see if child support payments need to be readjusted.
The situations listed above are unique in stepfamilies. This can be very stressful to a marriage and can lead to divorce. When a divorce is final, a stepparent has no role in the child’s life anymore and there cannot be any child support ordered. The same goes for child custody and visitations.
If you are a stepparent, protect yourself for the future. Stepfamilies can provide a happy and loving home to a child or children who can learn from a successful marriage and family lifestyle that you provide.
- The content of this page is provided for informational purposes only. If you need advice regarding a family law issue, click here to talk to Edward Adams or a Family Lawyer near you.