With today’s blended families, all kinds of new cases are popping up – and some of them include stepparents trying to get visitation time with their stepchildren after divorce.
But is that even possible if you haven’t legally adopted your stepkids?
Can Former Stepparents Get Visitation Rights in Wisconsin?
It can be difficult for a non-blood relative, such as a stepparent, to win visitation rights in court during a divorce. However, it is possible in some cases.
Wisconsin law states that a stepparent can petition the court for visitation with the child, as can grandparents and great-grandparents. If the court determines that visitation will be in the best interests of the child, such as when the stepparent and child are emotionally bound to each other, the judge may choose to award visitation to the stepparent.
Many stepparents are an integral part of their stepkids’ lives, so it makes sense that it could be in the child’s best interest to continue a relationship even when their biological parent obtains a divorce.
What to Do if You’re a Stepparent Who Wants Visitation
A divorce is difficult for everyone involved, and the threat of losing a loved one – in this case, your stepchild – makes everything harder.
It’s a good idea to talk to your Milwaukee divorce lawyer about your situation. He or she will be able to give you case-specific legal advice that helps you make the right decisions; one of those decisions may be to petition the court for visitation of your stepchild.
You may need to gather information that shows how you and your stepchild have bonded. Your lawyer will probably ask you several questions, as well, including:
- How involved are you in your stepchild’s life?
- What kind of emotional ties do you and your stepchild have?
- How long, if at all, did you act in place of the child’s biological parent?
- Is the child financially dependent on you?
- How will your absence affect your stepchild?
There’s more to parenting than DNA, and courts generally recognize this. In many cases, as long as the child is old enough, the court will consider his or her wishes as well.
It’s usually best to let your divorce lawyer guide you through the process to ensure that you get to share your story with the court. Make sure you provide your attorney with all the information he or she needs to help you get visitation, and as with any custody dispute, make sure that you are looking at the big picture.