When a parent and stepparent divorce, it can raise the issue of stepparent visitation. In some situations, kids may benefit from having contact with their former stepparent, while in others, maintaining a connection may not be in their best interest. Here is more on California stepparent visitation rights.
California Stepparent Visitation
Generally, when both are safe and appropriate, California law favors parents deciding who can see their kids. However, there can be circumstances when it may be beneficial for another adult to maintain a relationship with a child.
In California, the law allows the court to grant reasonable visitation rights “to any other person having an interest in the welfare of the child.” Therefore, depending on the circumstances, a court could decide to permit a child’s former stepparent to have visitation.
To decide this issue, California courts whether:
- The stepparent has an interest in the welfare of the child, and
- It is in the child’s best interest to grant the stepparent visitation.
Biological Parents v. Stepparent Visitation
Although California law may allow a stepparent to seek visitation rights, that does not automatically mean they will be granted. As mentioned above, courts must consider what is in the child’s best interest. In addition, parental rights can also be a complicating factor.
When both parents are involved in their child’s life and able to provide care, a stepparent will have to show why it’s beneficial for the child to continue seeing them. Further, the court will not grant visitation rights conflicting with a birth parent’s custody or visitation who is not a party to the proceeding. If both parents oppose stepparent visitation, the stepparent would have to be able to show the court that it would be harmful to the child not to have visitation.
Best Interest Factors
California court will consider several “best interest” factors when deciding what is best for a child. Some of the factors that may be relevant when deciding stepparent visitation include but are not limited to:
- The health and safety of the child
- The biological parents’ ability to care for their child
- Any history of domestic violence
- The relationship between the stepparent and stepchild
- The relationship between the stepparent and the child’s parents
- The child’s age and emotional maturity
- Any other relevant information
Stepparent as Primary Caregiver
In some situations, a stepparent may have served as a child’s primary caregiver in place of one or both biological parents. For example, this may occur when a biological parent refuses or can longer be present to care for their child. In this instance, the court may view the stepparent as having an “in loco parentis” or in place of the parent relationship. This type of relationship is typically viewed as stronger evidence in favor of granting a former stepparent the right to see a child.
Stepparent visitation can be a complicated matter with significant implications, and it’s important to work with an experienced California child custody attorney as you navigate this issue.
Contact an Experienced California Child Custody Attorney
If you have questions regarding an upcoming California divorce or child custody matter, you should meet with a California divorce and child custody attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case. Your divorce and child custody lawyer can help you evaluate your circumstances and plan for your child’s visitation now and in the future.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced California divorce and child custody attorneys who can help you with stepparent visitation and all other issues in your case. We assist clients along California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin, San Jose, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website.