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What Happens To The Relationship With Stepchildren After Divorce?


If you are considering a divorce, things could get exponentially more complicated if there are stepchildren involved.  That’s because if there is no biological connection or legal adoption in the mix, there are also no legal rights to speak of.  If you are about to have to navigate a divorce and are  concerned about whether or not you will continue to have access to beloved stepchildren, you will want to have an experienced local divorce attorney by your side going forward.

How do Stepchildren View the Situation? 

The circumstances of each family largely determine how stepchildren feel about stepparents and the prospect of losing them through divorce.  Without question, the duration of the marriage, the ages of the children, and the relationship that has existed thus far are important.  One study looked at other factors worth noting:

  • The attitudes of other family members toward the divorce itself;
  • The ways in which a stepparent provided support and/or resources during the marriage;
  • Beliefs stepchildren have regarding what constitutes “family” for them;
  • The feelings of the biological parent toward allowing a continuing relationship.

Critically, the notion of kinship—whether stepchildren view a stepparent as part of their family, is one of the most important factors to consider in these situations.  For kids who view an adult as their dad or mom, the likelihood of maintaining relationships into adulthood is much more likely, and because the legal ties won’t facilitate that, it will be up to the individuals involved to build an environment that supports such relationships if it’s in the best interests of the kids.

What’s in the Kids’ Best Interest? 

Attachments kids form with adults can be important to healthy emotional lives.  Some biological parents may be inclined to want to get as far away from their former spouse as possible following a divorce.  But that may not be in the best interest of the kids.  It’s worth giving the matter careful consideration.  In some cases, opening the door for visitation and a continued relationship could be a magnificent gift you give to your children, who will likely be struggling with the loss of routine and normalcy after a divorce.

When Stepparents are Denied Access to the Children 

Stepparents who are facing an unfriendly divorce and whose former spouse refuses to grant visitation have a few options worth considering:

  • Is it possible to have a discussion with the children’s other biological parent? Perhaps that parent would be willing to share custody visits with you;
  • Are there other family members or friends who might go to bat for your cause? Maybe a gently nudge from a trusted source would soften your ex;
  • Is there any legal case for providing access to the stepchildren? If so, maybe a discussion with your divorce attorney is on order.

Advocating for You 

At WiseLieberman, our experienced Boca Raton divorce attorneys provide vigorous advocacy for clients just like you.  To discuss your situation, schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.

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