As a stepparent, you likely grow to love your stepchildren. If you divorce the parent of those children, you might find that you still want to be a part of the children's life. In the past, that wasn't readily allowed, but the tides might be turning with regard to de facto parentage with stepparents. Florida residents might like to know about a recent case that might give stepparents some hope for seeing their stepchildren.
The case at hand is one that involves a stepfather who has been part of a child's life since birth. The mother and her husband divorced after she had one child. She became engaged to another man, who was killed in an industrial accident. She was pregnant at the time. Her ex-husband came back into her life and the two moved in together. They married shortly after the baby was born. The two remained together for two years before divorcing again.
After the divorce, the two children were both allowed to follow the court-ordered visitation that the older son followed, even though the younger child wasn't biologically the stepfather's child. When the mother began dating other men, the stepfather began to notice a trend in which the woman would threaten to eliminate or minimize the visitation rights of the stepfather. Because the man wanted to remain in the child's life, he sought nonparental custody of the child.
The case is heading to the state's highest court for a decision. The decision could affect how stepparents can continue to parent a child they raised from birth if a divorce occurs with the child's biological parent.
If you are facing child custody issues as the result of a divorce, seeking advice from an experienced Florida attorney might help you to determine an appropriate petition.
Source: Justia, "De Facto Parentage and the Rights of Former Stepparents" Joanna L. Grossman, Dec. 10, 2013