Rights for step-parents? Weird question. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 09-29-2006, 07:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Maybe this is silly for me to be thinking about right now, I just got married a few weeks ago.

My husband has been in my daughter's life since she was two, and we have her 5 or more nights a week, (her dad has her two nights or sometimes less.) We all get along pretty well, and I was never married to dd's father, and we never went to court to arrange custody or anything. DD is close with her father, but closer with my husband. She considers my husband to be one of three of her parents, and has for years.

So what if I die? Obviously my husband can't adopt her when her father is in the picture, right? Would he have any rights to her? He is definitely the more responsible parent, and although her dad/my ex is a good guy...he is also the "fun guy" who never really thinks about his parenting choices. I let a lot slide because I know he only has her a few days a week, and b/c my parents were at eachother's throats w/ their divorce and I don't want that for my daughter.

I would always want her dad to be in her life and it wouldn't be about taking anything away from him, but just ensuring my daughter would also continue to be parented by my husband. Is this impossible?

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#2 of 17 Old 09-29-2006, 11:20 PM
 
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Hopefully some of the more experienced parents here can help you on this one!!

Sarah - Mama to Vic (1/19/00), Syd (4/06/02) Sam (4/20/06-born at 30wk2d), JackJack (2/14/07) and Charlie (4/30/10)
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#3 of 17 Old 09-30-2006, 01:01 AM
 
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I have been told that no, if the bio parent dies, it is up to the living parent to make all those decisions. Step parents have no rights to the child. Apparently there are some rules about keeping a child's life like it was before the parent passed, but I haven't heard of anyone actully being successful at that. I know that if my ds died, it would be up to his mother to decide if our relationship could continue. In my mind, it has to, because I am the mother of his little brother. I don't have any legal right to him, though.
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#4 of 17 Old 09-30-2006, 01:57 AM
 
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there was a case not to far from me where 12 year old boy had lived with his mom and step dad for over 10 years and this was the only father he knew. his bio-dad never even visited or paid child support. mom didn't make a fuss about it so none of it was documented.

so fast forward mom dies when boy is 12 and him and step -dad do what needs to be done to get on with thier lives. I am not sure how it happened but bio dad pops back into his life and insists boy comes and lives with himl. It was absolutely heartbreaking. tearful appeals from both step dad (who has lost his wife and now his son) and the boy. The courts awarded custody to the dad. They absolutely hated to do it (and the judge didn't mince words about how he felt about it) but legally his hands were tied. i wish I remembered how it ended. I think the boy ended up going back to his step dad when he was 14 and his bio dad gave in finally.

but yeah step parents have no rights as far as I know and I think to some extent it sucks but it could also make things crazy for kids. imagine visitation with parents and step parents divorced

but if you and your xh have an amicable relationship and everyone gets along it might be worth it to talk about it. perhaps there is an arrangement that can be made.

The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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#5 of 17 Old 09-30-2006, 02:26 AM
 
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I think it's cute that dss (11) says (with odd joy) "If you and dad divorced, then I would get THREE Christmases-- at my moms, my dads, and your house!" Very sweet. Or selfish . but, it makes me sad to image what would happen if something happened to dh. I actually believe that at this point, I would probably still care for him, or at least see a lot of him. We are all getting along these days.
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#6 of 17 Old 09-30-2006, 04:42 AM
 
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Talk to an attorney. In the UK, it's possible for a step-parent to gain parental responsibility through a residency order. It's also possible for either stepparrents or siblings to get a contact order- so that Skye could still see her brothers if I died, for instance.

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#7 of 17 Old 09-30-2006, 03:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for your replies.

Part of me thinks that my ex would be relieved if my husband could at least keep dd half the week, because I think he feels like being a parent cramps his social life...but that is with the circumstances now. He is single and dating a lot. We all get along suprisingly well right now, and as much as I hope my ex settles down with a great woman, (because it will probably make life more consistent for our dd,) I am also very nervous because a fourth person could really change the dynamic between all of us.

I think I will try to have a serious conversation w/ my ex about it, and see if there is anyway we can have some sort of agreement legally documented.

Mama to A born 8/7/99
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#8 of 17 Old 09-30-2006, 11:24 PM
 
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First, let me say Mazel Tov!

Like others have said, my understanding is stepparents get zero rights. Kinda like we get zero credit for cleaning up puke and sitting in carpool lanes and all that other stuff simply because we didn't give birth to this particular child. It sucks, but thats what we take on as stepparents. Forgive me, I've been a little bitter about this today since DSD is sick and I've been using my vacation days to take off work since the bio parents can't do it and I don't get even a awknowledgement from the biomom (should I be surprised?). But enough about me.

The only way your DH could adopt your DD is if DDs bio-father gave up all parental rights to the child and then your DH went through the formal adoption process. Since this is probably doubtful the biodad would do this, you're probably out of luck. You could try to arrange in both your will and the biodad's will that your DH would have some sort of parental rights to the child, but I have a feeling that even if it was clearly outlined by the best of lawyers, all the biodad would have to do is change his mind and your DH is out of luck, and this is assuming he would go for that idea in the first place. It breaks my heart to think that if anything was to happen to my DH, I would lose my entire family since I have no biochildren of my own. Hopefully it is something none of us will never have to deal with. BTW, it is not at all weird to think about it so soon after your wedding, I did the same thing.
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#9 of 17 Old 09-30-2006, 11:27 PM
 
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step parents get no rights. I've thought about what would happen if I were to die, my daughter would in all likelyhood not see her step father again because her bio dad is pretty mean like that.

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#10 of 17 Old 10-01-2006, 04:57 AM
 
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Thank you for asking this question -- I have been thinking about the same thing. I too am recently married (one year today!!) but my DH has been involved with my DD for quite a while and she considers him a parent, too.

Although I think that pps are probably right about the rights of step-parents, I have always wondered about a will. If the wishes of the mother (bio-parent) were spelled out in her will, would that make any difference?
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#11 of 17 Old 10-01-2006, 04:22 PM
 
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My dh checked with an attorney many years ago. He was told that he could NOT pass on his parental rights to any other person if he were to die. All rights would belong to the mother upon his death, unless he and she were to die at the same time or she died first. I have never heard of anyone forming a legally binding agreement with both mother and father in advance that would involve a third party taking on rights upon the death of one of the biological parents, but it wouldn't hurt to look further into that angle.
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#12 of 17 Old 10-02-2006, 11:23 AM
 
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The PP is correct. Parental rights cannot be willed. Legally, step parents have no rights. It's sad, and it means that I would have no rights to DSS if something happened to DH.
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#13 of 17 Old 10-02-2006, 03:02 PM
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If you have a good relationship with your ex you may want to discuss your concerns with him. He may agree that your child would be better off with your DH and agree to give him guardianship or allow him to adopt the child. There are open adoptions where the birth parent still has visitation rights and so forth, you can easily have an adoption that agrees to allow the father to still maintain his visits. However you will most likely give up any rights to support payments, although your ex may agree to pay on his own. The only thing you can do is talk to him and see where he stands. My cousin is going through this with her ex, there are many other factors that are not my place to talk about, but basically he agreed because he knows that she has the best interests of their child in mind. I do not see how removing a child from the home s/he has known and from the comfort of a parent they have lived with can be healthy. Then they lose two parents instead of one. Sad.
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#14 of 17 Old 10-02-2006, 05:24 PM
 
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One thing DH and I have thought of but haven't done yet: DH set up a life insurance policy so that if anything were to happen to him, his DD would be tasken care of financially. It is a lot of money she woud be getting. Right now it is set up so that the biomom is the one who would be in charge of dispersing the money to dsd since she is the biomom and because it was set up when they were still married. We have talked about changing it to where I am the one in charge of the money, that way if anything ever happened to DH I would still be able to see or at least hear abut my dsd. Its still not any kind of gauranteed contact, but it sure would give his ex a reason to be nice and accomodating to me if anything ever happened to DH.
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#15 of 17 Old 10-02-2006, 05:49 PM
 
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I have been keeping a journal regarding the lack of effort my former spouse is putting in with the children, my husband, the father of our youngest, is the day in day out daddy to all of the children. We have friends, mutual friends of my former spouse, me and my husband, who see just how little the X is with the children, how involved my husband is, and who know my wishes. My life insurance policy is HUGE, to either "buy" the children from their bio, with the promise of life continues as it has, he just does not have to pay childsupport, or for my husband to fight for the children in court.

The children are in a special language school, have many more opportunities where we live, vs. where my x does. The have friends and family, a sibling and a father that has lived with them longer than bio did. We have a decent case of "continuation of life" if the unfortunate happens to me. While I know it will be a hard battle, I hope that we will prevail.


Of course, at 5'10", 360lbs, smoking and a history of heart disease, it is more likely that my x will pass before I will. :
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#16 of 17 Old 10-03-2006, 12:45 PM
 
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I do believe that stepparents can get visitation, at least where I live. So if my DH died I would try to obtain some sort of visitation with DSS. Grandparents have this ability as well.
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#17 of 17 Old 10-03-2006, 03:58 PM
 
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I know grandparents can get visitation if the spouse dies. So you could stay on good terms with your inlaws and see the child that way.
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