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What legal rights do step-parents have?

Family structures come in all shapes and sizes. As divorce rates have continued to remain steady for years, blended families and step-parent relationships have continued to be on the rise. With step-parenting becoming more common during many children's formative year's, many people are recognizing the important bond that still forms between parents and their non-biological children. Until 2000 the courts had often failed to acknowledge the importance of the step-parent/step-child relationship often failing to include the step-parent in any post-divorce custody situations. Now the courts have begun to acknowledge the bond and relationship development between step-parents and the children they help to raise and step-parents are now a larger part of the consideration during visitation and custody proceedings.

You’ve lost custody of your kids. Now get them back.

Over the years, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has ruled on two important cases relating to child custody. In addition, the U.S. Congress has passed federal legislation. In 1972, the court ruled (Stanley v. Illinois) that unmarried fathers have fundamental parenting rights; in 1983 (Lehr v. Robertson), SCOTUS ruled that biological fathers must demonstrate a presence in their child’s life in order to hold onto custodial rights; and in 1997, Congress passed the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) giving states the right to terminate parental rights if a child remains in foster care for 15 out of 22 months.

Winning back custody of your kids

Parents who lose custody of their children find themselves in desperate situations and may even go to great lengths to get their kids back. In California, a mother who lost custody of her children in a bitter court battle with her former husband found herself in such a situation. When the father was away, she went to his home and took her kids. They have since disappeared, but the police have not given up in their efforts to locate them. Children of the Underground, a loose network specializing in helping parents retrieve their kids in perceived wrongful custody arrangements, helped to get the mother and her children off the grid.

How far would you go to get custody?

How far would you go to get custody of your child? In one recent Texas case reported by U.S. News & World Report, one 34-year old mother (along with her husband and father-in-law), plotted the death of the man who had been awarded custody of their daughter from a previous relationship. According to court records, after the woman stabbed the man to death, she and her father-in-law drove to the victim’s home in Abilene to take the child. Ultimately, the plan failed and the woman was charged with murder, while her accomplices were arrested for conspiracy. 

Fathers in Texas continue the fight for custody rights

We've heard it for years: When it comes to custody of a child, mothers are given preferential treatment by the courts. Many men heading into divorce don't even bother to try, due to what they perceive as an expensive, uphill battle. The truth is, though, Texas family law courts expect both parents to share their rights and responsibilities as parents. Equally true, however, is that the mother will be awarded primary conservatorship in the majority of cases when the issue is under dispute. But is that due to bias toward the mother, or other factors taken into consideration?

Recognize parenting time interference to stop it early

You love seeing your child and you always make an effort to be at the meeting spot ahead of schedule. You're there when your child arrives with his or her other parent. The last thing you ever want is to have your kid think you don't want to see him or her, especially because you get to only a few times a week.