Step-Parent Rights

by Diana S. Velez Harris on Jun. 08, 2020

Divorce & Family Law Family Law Divorce & Family Law 

Summary: What rights does a Step Parent have in a divorce?

In the Commonwealth, a step parent does not have any legal rights relative to the care and custody of any children of your current or ex spouse. It is well established law in the Commonwealth that, absent special circumstances, a Court will not interfere in a legal parent's right to determine who in involved in their child's life.  There are some exceptions to this standard; the one that may apply to step parents is called "defacto" parenting rights.  


A defacto parent is a person who can establish that the parent-child relationship and strong emotional ties between the Child and the defacto parent is such that it warrants the Court finding that it is in the child's best interest that the defacto parent be granted parenting time with the child.  The Court may consider whether the defacto parent resided with the child; whether the defacto parent, with the consent and encouragement of the legal parent, performed a share of caretaking functions at least as great as the legal parent; and the type and quality of the relationship between the defacto parent and the child.  The determination that Parent B is a defacto parent will allow the defacto parent to enjoy visitation with the Child.  Time is of the essence in any Complaints regarding defacto parenting; as such, it is crucial that you speak with an experienced family law Attorney if you believe you may be a defacto parent.  

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