Custody Battle - Stepmother's Rights?

Hayley - posted on 09/16/2010 ( 27 moms have responded )

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I am the Stepmum to a three year old boy. I have been his stepmum since he had just turned one year old and I love him like he is my own. The social Services have recently put him in My husband and I's custody and we are going to court to obtain permanent custody. We are applying together so as far as I know the residency order would be in my name also - If we win where does that leave me in terms of the law? Do I have any rights when it comes to my stepson and what are they?... Please help! There isn't alot of info about this around :(

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Heather - posted on 04/15/2013

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According to the law..step parents have no legal rights. You can sign papers for school and the doctor or anyone else and think it is alright because your spouse said it is..but according to the law you can actually be pulled into court by the other parent and get into alot of trouble. Even if your spouse has sole legal and physical custody of the children, as a step parent you have no rights concerning that child.
If you, as the step parent, were to adopt the child then you would have rights..but you cannot adopt your step child(ren) without the consent of the other biological parent. Even if they have no custody, they still have rights as the biological parent.
My children have a stepfather and a stepmother..and I have 2 stepchildren. I have come to know the law regarding all of this very well. As sad as it is..a stepparent is basically a babysitter for the kids of the person they're with.
Also..as a stepparent you cannot be called mommy or daddy by your stepchild(ren). If you are, the other parent can pull you and your spouse into court and the courts can issue a no contact order. It is considered brainwashing and denying that child the natural love and affection for their biological parent.
Be careful not to overstep your boundaries..you could either lose your kids or cause your spouse to lose their's.
The laws regarding parental rights are Federal. I encourage everyone to research it.

Nicole - posted on 09/16/2010

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You will always be a legal guardian as long as your married to the Dad, that's your rights!

Andrea - posted on 10/08/2010

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hi , me and my hubby won custody 10 yrs ago when we were not married and stepson to me was 5. i have more rights than the mother when it comes to schooling and doctors etc but my husband is the only 1 with parental rights . however when we got married my rights changed now we both have parental responsility . hope this helps somehow

Jodie - posted on 01/02/2011

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well for starters,if child services r involved,depending on hw ure rules work wea u live,your chances are high,all u need to do is prove u are stable enuf to be thea for the little tiger,prove that u can provide his needs emotional & physicaly,3yr olds are full on,and if the judges agrees,then u may just your wish,without really doing something.b posstive & fight for your stepson,good luck.

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Ashley - posted on 04/10/2013

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If they give u guardianship then u have the same rights as any parent. If they terminate the mothers rights u shouldbr able to adopt and make him yours. In going through it now. Good luck.

Tonya - posted on 01/10/2011

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I think this conversation is a bit humorous. My husband has rights to my children, but I have none to his! Found this out not too long ago....he seems to have more rights because he carries the insurance on my children...and supports them. My daughter had to use his income on her college financial aide because she lives with us. BUT when it comes to his children....I have NO rights because they do not live with us and their mother is active in their life.

Marilyn - posted on 10/05/2010

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Hi Ladies; As far as I know as a stepmom I have no rights here in Canada. My stepson lives with us but the BM makes sure she tells him when he visits that I am nothing. My hubby tries to let him know that it is our home and I have as much say as his father does - but I have to admit I hold back alot and let his father deal with the discipline and other issues. I just merely give advice to my hubby in private - stepson is 9.

Cinzia - posted on 09/29/2010

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It depends on a lot of things. As a stepmom for the last 6.5 years of a 9 yr old , MOST of the time I have a say so except medical emergencies. In the state of Louisiana, I cannot and do not have any say so in a medical emergency unless I have the "notarized piece of paper" that says I can. I can bring her to the doctor or dentist but if she has to have any shots, dad or mom needs to be there. At school, I have a say so UNTIL she has a medical emergency, then I have none without that paper. EVERYTHING needs to be in writing as per where you live. Other than that, I pretty much run the roost in my house!

[deleted account]

Laws are different in each state. However, unless there's a serious legal issue regarding the child, you have whatever rights your husband deems allowable. I have 3 steps since they were 7 & 9 and they are now 27 & 29. We had custody and I did put my name as contact on everything including medical forms. Also, if I signed them up for any activities, my name (as well as their father's) was on the forms. So virtually it is up to you & your husband to determine what rights you have. If the mom is involved with your step-son's life (and each mom is different, too), be careful about stepping on her toes. Some are possessive, some are grateful that their child has another mom involved, and some just don't care.

Heather - posted on 09/28/2010

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I've gone through this exact situation. The state took custody from our BM. She has "temporarily" had her parental rights suspended. The way our judge explained the way it works is what has been stated above. There is a difference between a "step parent" and a "legal guardian".

Hayley - posted on 09/28/2010

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Thank you everyone, your comments have been really helpful - I'm in the UK just to clear that up. I'll raise the issue with our Solicitor and make sure my name is on the paperwork!!

Nickie - posted on 09/27/2010

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I have been a step-mom for 8 years and have absolutely no rights whatsoever to my step-son. I do fill out school paperwork and even medical forms, but I do that with both my husband's and his mother's permission.

I don't know what the laws are where you live, but I would ask the attorney working on the case. Where I live, custody is only granted to a biological parent not a biological parent's spouse.

Rhonda - posted on 09/26/2010

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Step parents have no parental rights without written documentation or court docmentation. So ensure your name is on the paperwork as a guardian. If your husband's name is on it only then you still do not have parental rights. But continue to be supportive of your husband and care for the children.

[deleted account]

Here in the US, each state has different laws, but generally speaking, the step mothers have absolutely no rights. School papers will have to be filled out by the father stipulating that the step mother has the right to sign for things, etc. Similarly, medical consent will have to be pre arranged legally. Should anything happen to the father, legal matters will have to be pre arranged to grant custody to the step mother (assuming the father is granted full custodial and legal custody). I've been a step mother for 10 years. It's much harder than being a mother. My best advice is to really work with attorneys to make sure as many details are covered in the custody arrangement as possible. Carrying on from that, a Will must be created which clearly outlines exactly what is intended should the father predecease the stepmother. Depending upon where you live, that scenario does not necessarily mean the children will continue to live with the step mother. They may go back to the mother in that case.

Good luck. Gather as much support as you can and really get the best attorneys you can afford. Remember, that once you have an agreement, that doesn't mean things are finished. Mum can take you back to court whenever she wants until the kids are adults. We've been to court 17 times in 10 years. It's not fun.

Pia - posted on 09/22/2010

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I totally undersand ure situation, and like many other mother;s who have posted, I am in the same situation, and will hopefully be adopting my stepsons soon, unfortunately we have to wait for her consent because this was precipitated by the child support judge looking at the fact that she has not pd her child support, has outwardly reported (under oath) she does not feel she should have topay child support, and she has not started the process for supervised visits. My stepkids are 10 and 6 and I have been in theirlives for about 5 years.
From my experience stepaprents have little to no rights, unless you have legal documentation. During this whole custody process the court did not even want to hear what I had to say, and I take care of these children day in andday out, sun up to sun down, but my role in their lives was grossly minimized. it is aggravating and frustrating, however I would speak to your attorney to get legalized documents at least naming u as a legal guardian. Although we stepparents do what bio parents do, society tends to minimize the role of the stepparent who cares for the children 24/7, and not just seeing the children every other weekend during visitation.

Tera - posted on 09/22/2010

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As far as I know, custody is granted to the parent not the spouse. If something happens to your husband before the child is old enough to say for himself where he wants to be, then the custody will go to the mother if she is rehabilitated. You can still fight it if you can prove that she is harmful to the child. Unfortunately, courts usually want to keep the child with someone who they are related to. I have a fifteen year old step daughter. I have been with her father since she was fifteen months old. I would spend every last dime of life insurance her father would leave us to insure that she would not have to return to live with her mother. But I think she is old enough to decide for herself in the eyes of the court. You would have to formally adopt her to have any parental rights. Hope I helped. God Bless!

Christy - posted on 09/22/2010

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Not sure where you are from....UK? But here in the states, Stepmothers do not have any legal rights. No matter who has coustody.
Wishing you the best of luck!!!!

Vicki - posted on 09/21/2010

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in England anyone named on the residence order has parental responsability which would give you rights to make decisions

Amanda - posted on 09/20/2010

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I know where I am from I have no rights whatsoever to my step children. I am the only mom they know, their bm did terrible things to them, and has not seen them since they were 2 and 4 or spoken to them since they were 3 and 5. She would have to sign her rights away and I would have to adopt before I could gain rights of my own. It sucks. It makes no sence, but it's the law where I am.

Marcella - posted on 09/20/2010

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I am in the same boat and was told by our lawyer that once custody is taken and given to us since we have filed together I will have the same rights as the mother, I will be a legal guardian and can sign any papers and such on the children and there is nothing the Bio mom can do about it, Hayley I know how you feel too hun I have been with my husband a year now and his children are really young, we just found out in November his little girl from his ex wife was his and started having visitation I love these babies as if I gave birth to them I am a step mum to a 4 year old 2 year old and now 1 year old Hayley your son will never remember a time in his life that you were not there just like my stepchildren won't either I hope that helps

[deleted account]

I would tend to agree with Anna, but like her I'm not in the US so I dont know what the rules are there. Certainly for me, the only rights I have pertain more to the kids and THEIR right to have a relationship with me if they so choose- in otherwords, no one is legally allowed to stop them spending time with me. But as for my own rights, as far as I know, outside of me being their guardian (where I have the same rights as any adult who is caring for them) when their dad is at work I have no rights whatsoever.

Petra - posted on 09/19/2010

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If your name is included in the legal papers and if you are named as a guardian or custodial parent, then you have the rights of a guardian or custodial parent. If you are not named at all and have no signed consents regarding schools, doctors, etc. then you have no rights, whatsoever. Definitely raise this issue with your lawyer and have your name included on all of the legal documents being filed to ensure your rights as a parent to your SS. If your name is not on the legal paperwork, then legally, you don't really exist.

Misty - posted on 09/18/2010

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If your name is on the papers then as far as I am concerned you and your husband are his gardians. Myself and my husband are also going through a custody battle for my 3 stepkids. Their birth mother texted me and told me that I am nothing to them kids that I dont have any say so or anything and those are not my children. I told my lawyer about and he said that could be used in court because she was being rude about it. I to love those kids like they are mine so I totally understand your situation.

Anna - posted on 09/18/2010

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where are you? im in england and as far as i know step parents have no rights at all unless all people with parental responsibility agree that you can have it to which enables you to have rights over the child. from experience schools and authorities are reluctant to speak to step parents unless given permission by a parent.

Nicole - posted on 09/16/2010

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I'm on all my stepkids forms at school as well as a notorized document from my husband at the doctors office that I can make any/all desicions regarding the kids. The word STEP is just a label, you have all rights as if you were that childs real Mom.

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