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What Happens If I Divorce The Parent Of My Stepchild?


Blended families are a blessing for the entire family unit. Unfortunately, the relationship between the biological parent and the stepparent does not always last. When that is the case, stepparents often wonder what will happen to the relationship they have developed with the child, and if they will be able to maintain it in the future. So, what will happen if you are divorcing the parent of your stepchild? Below, our Orlando divorce lawyer explains.

Divorce After Adoption

If you have adopted your stepchild, you are their legal parent. You have already gone through the process of terminating the other parent’s rights and have all the same rights and responsibilities as any other biological or legal parent in the state. This means you have a right to time-sharing, as well as the right to make important decisions on behalf of your child. Essentially, if you divorce the biological parent and have adopted the stepchild, time-sharing and parental responsibility hearings will proceed just as they would in a divorce between two biological parents.

Sadly, if you have not adopted your stepchild, you will not have any rights to time-sharing or parental responsibility if you divorce the biological parent. Without an official adoption in place, there is no official or legal relationship between you and the child. Although you may still be able to reach an agreement with your spouse about visitation, they are under no legal obligation to agree to such arrangements.

Will the Biological Parent Automatically Receive Primary Custody?

So, you may still have parental rights if you have adopted your stepchild, but you may wonder if the biological parent will automatically receive primary custody, or the majority of time-sharing. The court will begin with the assumption that it is in the best interests of the child to maintain a strong relationship with both you and your spouse post-divorce. The court will work on this presumption unless either party can show otherwise.

Family law judges will also consider other evidence regarding the physical and emotional needs of the child, the willingness of the parents to cooperate and co-parent, evidence of abuse or violence, and other factors outlined in the Florida Statutes.

It is important to note that genetics and DNA is not considered during time-sharing hearings. If you have officially adopted the child, you are their legal parent, regardless of whether or not you are the biological parent.

In addition to parental rights, adopting a stepchild also brings legal responsibilities. As such, during the divorce, child support issues will also have to be resolved. Just like time-sharing rights, adoptive parents can be held just as responsible for paying child support, particularly if they are awarded less time with the child.

Our Divorce Lawyers in Orlando Will Uphold Your Rights

Divorce is hard enough but when children are involved, the challenges you will face can feel monumental. At Anderson & Ferrin, P.A., our Orlando divorce lawyers can make the process easier, make sure your rights are upheld at all times, and give you the best chance of a favorable outcome. Call us now at 407-412-7041 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.


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