Marriage Step Children After Divorce
We often read about how children are impacted by the divorce of their parents and how the dynamics of their lives can change as a consequence. But, what about step-children? What happens to a step-parent's relationship with their step-children if they divorce from the child's parent?
Although we hear many stories of troubled step-parent/step-child relationships, many are very positive. There are situations where they have lived together for a long time, possibly since a child has been very young. The step-parent might have been around since before a child can remember. They might even call them Mum or Dad. In these cases the step-parent might see the child in the same eyes as if he or she was a biological child of theirs. Others might be in a situation where they have biological children who have lived together in a family with them along with their step-children.
Where there is a strong step-parent/step-child relationship and a divorce occurs, the step-parent will often want to maintain a close relationship. They may want to see them on a regular basis as they would likely be able to with a biological child.
In the vast majority of cases biological parents who divorce and do not live with their children still have a right to see them. They tend to have an arrangement where they see them on a regular basis unless there is an extreme reason for this not being the case, for example fears for the safety of the child. This is not always the case with step-children, even if their relationship had previously been very close.
Step-parents don't necessarily have a right to a continuing relationship with their step-children after a divorce from one of the child's biological parents. In some cases parents will be happy to let their ex-husband or wife see their child and a relationship can therefore continue in the same way as it would for biological children in a similar situation. It is, however, largely the decision of the biological parent with the former step-parent having no legal right to this. This means their relationship with someone they may perceive as their child suddenly being taken away from them.
More recently there have been situations where this has been challenged in the courts. Former step-parents have sought out the legal right to see their former-step children. In some cases this has been granted where it has been deemed best for the children and the children wish to have continuing contact. Such a situation is still the exception rather than the rule, though. It is still all too easy for parents to prevent this from happening. Unlike divorcing biological parents where on-going contact is the norm, in the vast majority of situations for divorcing step-parents it comes down to the choice of his or her former spouse. To some this can feel like their son or daughter being suddenly taken away from them forever. This doesn't benefit anyone and can be difficult for both the child and the former step-parent.
Andrew Marshall (c)
If you are looking for a Divorce Lawyer London, visit the Family Law in Partnership website.
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