what do you know about stepparenting rights in case of bio parent death?

Melanie - posted on 04/09/2010 ( 8 moms have responded )

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i worry that if something were to ever happen to my husband i would not only lose him but my family since i don't believe i have any rights to my stepkids. it is hard for me to think that even though i have been in their lives for over 10years it could all change in an instant. i especially worry now that we have another child.. she could lose touch with her brothers...their BM has a baby ( father not in the picture) i have even considered volunteering to take her in if anything ever happened to her mother so that my kids never lose each other. it keeps me up at night... we have set it up that if my husband dies ( and we had sole custody due to frreak of nature where his ex died first) i would get custody of the kids but other than that i think they would up and move and i could never hear from them again...

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I live in CA and I have thought of this scenario as well. I know that if my hubby were to die the bm would just swoop in and take my daughter from me (we have our oldest 90% of the time) and my two bio kids (with my hubby) would never see their sister again. It was so terrifying for me when I realized this fact one day (after we alomst got into what would have been a really bad accident one day - not our fault or anything, but we almost got t-boned by some crazy drink driver. My hubby's quick reflexes when he hit the brake saved us all).



To prevent this (and protect myself) I have an interesting order that I have only heard of in my state (CA). It's called a Petition for a Joinder and it basically added my name to the case file. It means I am an "interested party" and I can claim custody AND child support if I am the one with the child most of the time. This means that right now I essentially have more custody of our oldest than her bm does (and it's OUR custody, mine and my hubby's together, so if he were to die it would become MY custody). So, if something happens, I would just file a paper with the court stating that I would like to keep the custody arrangement that we have and I would keep my oldest with me.



Like I said, I don't know if other states have this petition, but I find it very stress relieving to know that my rights are protected should something happen to my hubby. I would recommend looking into it in your state, or even asking a lawyer (if you have one, if you don't you could always do a consultation, they run about $100 for an hour long consult). It never hurts to look into it!



An interesting side note, this petition also allows me certain privelages that I would not otherwise have, even as the wife of my hubby. I can go into mediation appointments, I can speak to the judge, I can file paperwork, I can view the file, AND it makes it so I can sue for my own custody should my hubby and I ever split (not that I think we ever will, but it's an interesting aspect of the petition).

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8 Comments

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Katherine - posted on 05/01/2010

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I also worry about this a lot! My husband is the domicillary parent of my now 8 y/o SS. We have been married for 5 years now. So, I have been Mom to him for over 6 years. He knows that I am the one who takes care of him, too.

Sandy - posted on 04/22/2010

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In Canada step parents have no legal rights to step children uless there is some sort of legal guardianship in place

Andra K. - posted on 04/14/2010

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I feel for your situation. I have been a step-mom for 5 years and have thought about the same things. You don't want to think about bad things happening, but it is realistic. Especially for me, having lost both parents at an early age to Cancer. I wish you luck, and please keep us posted on the laws you find.

Melanie - posted on 04/13/2010

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thanks ladies! i don't thinke other people understand how powerless you can feel in creating a family that you don't have rights to...i hope it never happens for the protection of my kids' happiness and i pray that if they ever have to face it ,they are old enough to choose to visit us and stay in their sister's life. but its nice to know there are options in some states. i am looking into it here

Betty - posted on 04/10/2010

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If something were to happen in the near future it would be best for SD to just move on with BM instead of witnessing the battle of the mommies for the rest of her childhood because I know things would get real ugly if I choose to fight with her. I may want to file for a Petition For a Joinder though, so I could get a few holidays a year, make sure she is being properly cared for, pay child support, and call her every few days. That's all I would want because I just don't think it would be healthy for SD to go from loosing her dad to seeing me and BM fight in front of her on a daily basis. BM already picks fights with DH, right in front of SD, over the phone and in person. One fight in particular was very damaging to her, it was over a year ago and SD is still upset about it. BM is very confrontational.

[deleted account]

I believe most states have some clause where you'd be able to file visitation. If not for you then for the benefit of the kids (brother/sister) relationship with each other. I worry about that too. My husband will deploy soon and I know how much SD adores her sister. He's already told me that if he passes away half of the money goes to me (to pay off bills and such) and the other half will be split between his daughters. He wants it that only SD can have the money (when she's of age). I wish I could be of more help.

Diana - posted on 04/09/2010

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First of all, hopefully you will never have to deal with this! You could always file for custody if that happened, or at least shared parenting or visitation. Being in their lives for so long, I find it hard to believe that a court would not grant you something.

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