Can I have contact with my stepchildren after separation?

Separation and divorce are ‘par for the course’ in today’s society.

Some people are guns and birdie it. The rest of us are probably putting our way to double bogies.

If you don’t get the golf analogies, then simply put – you are just as likely to split up from your partner as you are to stay with them until death do you part.

Many people will do this more than once.

That’s what lands us in the role of stepparents. That’s what creates the ever growing trend of blended families.

In some instances, you will have no reason or desire to maintain contact with your stepchildren. And there is nothing wrong with this.

For those of you who do, however, you need to know your legal rights to seek this.

In a perfect world, you will speak with your former partner about why you want to remain connected to their children, and they will be willing to facilitate this (or agree, at least, if the children are older and able to maintain contact with you themselves).

In an otherwise than perfect world, the legal consideration is two fold:

  1. Do you have a genuine interest in the care, welfare and development of the child?
  2. Is it in the child’s best interest to maintain their relationship with you?

Let’s say you saw the child every other weekend, for the last couple of years. This is your connection with the child.

You didn’t take them to school, help them with homework, cook them meals, or celebrate big events with them. Maybe you went to a birthday once, and had one Christmas with them. Maybe you played with them when they visited, but you didn’t really know if they had any major health issues, or how they were tracking with their education.

In this example, even if you could evidence a genuine interest in the child’s welfare and development (which doesn’t seem likely), you would then need to evidence why that child’s best interests would be met by having to be interrupted from their time with their two biological parents to spend time with you. The odds are likely against you in this one.

One the other hand, maybe you saw that child every other weekend and half the holidays. For eight years. You had been to every birthday. All the school events. Half the Christmases. You are the parent to their two half siblings. They consider your parents to be their pseudo grandparents. They are genuinely connected to you and your extended family.

The chances are, you can evidence your standing i.e. your interest in their care and development. Then it comes down to whether it is in their best interest and, although perhaps their biological parent could facilitate their time with their half siblings, maybe their extended familial connections are really important to them, and they want to have ongoing time with you and your family.

You might not be seeing them as much as you were before, but you would certainly have better and stronger grounds for some level of court ordered contact where the parents are not in agreement.

It is certainly doable, but has to be considered on a case by case basis.

If we can help, book in now and let’s get started.

JP x

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