Being a Stepparent In Florida
Stepparents are charged with the difficult task of raising a child that is not biologically their own. In many cases, they are responsible for providing love, financial support, and supervision, while maintaining clear boundaries and respecting the rights of the natural mother or father involved. As family law attorneys, we see first hand the vital role stepparents play in blended families and can advise you on the legal steps you need to take to protect this important relationship.
Your Role as a Stepparent
Understanding your role as a stepparent is vital to achieving success in this sensitive relationship. According to Kids Health, factors that affect how involved you are likely to be in decision making and in influencing the child depend on the following:
- The age of the child or children;
- How long you have known them or been a part of their lives;
- The circumstances surrounding their parent’s breakup;
- How well the parents currently get along;
- The total amount of time your stepchild spends with you.
In situations where the child either lives with the other parent or has frequent contact with them, you may need to maintain additional space and avoid getting into the middle of disagreements regarding their care and activities. Any concerns you have about your own rights and comfort in the situation should be addressed through your partner/their parent.
Protecting Your Legal Rights as a Stepparent
Under the Florida Statutes, stepparents have no legal rights in child time sharing proceedings, though their presence and their actions could be a factor in determining the amount of time the child spends in the home. In the event the relationship with their partner ends, stepparents do not have rights to visitation, nor do they have the obligation to pay support.
In situations where a loving, family bond exists between the stepparent and the child, going through the process of an adoption can be a way to protect the rights of everyone involved. Under Florida adoption laws, if the child is a minor there would have to be background checks conducted as part of the process, along with a formal home study and proceedings to terminate the biological mother or father’s parental rights. In cases of adult children, it is generally a more simplified process, in which you, the child, and their natural parent agree to the adoption. In either situation, the potential benefits of stepparent adoption include:
- Provides parenting rights in the event of a divorce or the death of the natural parent;
- Allows the step parent to make legal decisions on the child’s behalf;
- Allows the child to receive certain benefits from the stepparent, such as military benefits or Social Security;
- Allows the child to be considered as an heir to the stepparent’s estate and provides rights in probate proceedings.
Let Us Help You with Your Case
When you have questions about child time sharing issues and how to protect your rights as a stepparent, our Fort Lauderdale family law attorney is here to help. Reach out and contact attorney Vanessa L. Prieto to request a consultation today.