Visitation with Stepchildren after Divorce

b2ap3_thumbnail_Visitation-with-Stepchildren.jpgFamilies come in all shapes and sizes. Many families are made up of biological and stepparents who are equally dedicated to the health and well-being of the children. Stepparents can become an important part of the lives of the children. However, when a couple gets divorced, there can be many obstacles to a stepparent getting any formal parenting time in the divorce decree.

Custody, Visitation, and the New Law

Under the new family law provisions that will be taking effect January 1, 2016, Illinois is moving away from a child custody system. Instead, the court will work with the parents to develop a set of carefully defined parental responsibilities. However, the reality is the children will still reside with one parent most of the time in most cases.

Illinois law favors the biological parent in almost all parenting time determinations. But, the court is bound to make decisions that are in the best interest of the child. While it is almost impossible for a stepparent to get custody of a child so long as one of the biological parents is a fit parent, it is possible under some circumstances for the court to formally award parenting time to a stepparent.

If the biological parents both do not want the stepparent to have any parenting time, it will be an uphill fight to convince the court to go against the wishes of the biological parents.

What You Must Show to Ask the Court for Parenting Time

Before a court will even consider a request from a stepparent for court ordered parenting time the stepparent must show all of the following:

  • The stepparent was married to the primary custodial parent for at least five years and the child or children lived with the couple during that time;
  • The stepparent provided for the care, control, and general welfare of the child or children before the case was filed; and
  • Parenting time is in the best interest of the child.

Many cases will not meet these strict criteria. However, even if a court refuses to grant court ordered parenting time, the parties involved can agree to informal visitation or parenting time. Research has shown that the bond between a stepparent and stepchild can be important to the child’s growth and development.

Family law issues are often complex. If you have more questions about stepparent rights, or any family law issues, contact an experienced Hinsdale family law attorney that knows how to solve complex problems. Call Martoccio & Martoccio today at 630-920-8855 to setup a consultation.

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=075000050HPt%2E+VI&ActID=2086&ChapterID=59&SeqStart=8350000&SeqEnd=10200000

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