What are your rights as a step parent?
If you’re married with a stepchild that you love as your own, you’re probably wondering what legal rights you have over that child. In general, not many in the state of Oklahoma. I can tell you if the parent has provided financially for that child, and more importantly, has maintained a relationship with that child, as a stepparent, you have almost no legal rights over that child.
Now, there are some limited circumstances where you have some legal rights. They are very limited. Here are a few examples.
Rights in Public
If you are out in public and your stepchild is with you, but the other parent is not, you then have the legal right, as a parent in public. So if you’re stopped by law enforcement or anyone else who wants to interact with you, you can take on the role of a parent.
Rights of Visitation
The other limited role, or right, you may have as a stepparent is in the circumstance of your spouse having a visitation schedule ordered by the courts with the other biological parent. If your spouse is out of town, you can still have rights of visitation to that child while your spouse is away. Now, usually, that is in a case of military personnel where the biological parent is out of town for military reasons, national guard, or something of that nature. Oftentimes there are half-siblings that are involved as well. So you exercise visitation so that child can also spend time with their half-siblings.
Other than these rare examples, your rights as a stepparent are almost nonexistent-even in the event that the other biological parent is not in the picture, and you’re not worried about them. If you and your spouse later get a divorce, you have no rights over that child in the eyes of the law. The law doesn’t care that you’ve raised that child for almost their entire life. Or that you love them, and they call you “mom” or “dad”. Wherever the relationship is, no matter how strong, in the event of divorce, you have no rights to visitation, no rights to custody, and no rights to anything over that child.
Now, if the other biological parent is an absent parent, and they have nothing to do with that child, and you want to get full legal rights over your child, you might be interested in a stepparent adoption. Step Up Adoptions specializes in helping you file for adoption in the state of Oklahoma that would give you full legal rights, just as if you are a biological parent. In this process, you can even get your name on the birth certificate. Step parent adoption gives you full rights, just as if they were born to you or biologically your own-even in the event that you and your spouse were to later divorce.
To see if you are eligible under Oklahoma law to file a petition for a step-parent adoption, you can take our quiz. Remember we are here to help, so contact us if we can answer questions or help you get started with the process of step-parent adoption.