Moving on from a divorce is important. Naturally, that means that divorcees meet someone new and eventually marry. Stepparents may play a pivotal role in a child’s life after a divorce, hopefully for the better. However, the rights of stepparents may be less than ideal for a new family dynamic.
In Florida, a stepparent is not recognized as a legal authority in a child’s life without further steps such as adoption. Unless legally recognized as a guardian or adoptive parent, the actions of a stepparent are purely out of love of the child. Unfortunately, if something happens to the divorced parent, without legal authority the stepparent is left nearly powerless in the decision making of the child’s well fare.
The silver lining is that a stepparent has a few things to consider before he or she is in that kind of situation. Here are some things to consider before becoming a stepparent.
Consider The Situation Prior to Marriage
Perhaps one of the best advantages of being in a future stepparent situation is the fact that he or she can make that decision independently. Because the rights of stepparents frankly just don’t exist, it is extremely important to really think about whether entering in a marriage with a divorcee and accepting a role as a stepparent is worth pursuing.
Premeditation is important. A stepparent would already be entering into the remnants of a broken relationship from the divorced couple. It is likely that whatever tension is left between the divorcees may be transferred onto a new stepparent.
Consider The Relationship With The Child
A divorce already makes a strong impact on child. Factor in a potential new stepparent, and there may be more stress for that child than they know how to deal with.
While relationships build with time and experience, it is important for potential stepparents to consider that the child’s relationship with a new member of the family may not grow at the same rate as the romantic relationship with the divorcee. Children from divorced couples may need extra attention from their parents, and it may cause tension with the stepparent.
Time, compassion, patience, courage and love are an absolute necessity when someone accepts the role of stepparent. It is not the right of a stepparent to be immediately loved and accepted by other members of the family. However, it is something that may come in time.
Consider The Future As A Stepparent
Now, in Florida the rights of stepparents are nonexistent or at least extremely under-represented. To remedy this, a stepparent can consider becoming a legal guardian, custodial guardian, or adoptive parent of the divorcee’s child.
Without becoming one of those titles, the stepparent cannot make key decisions in a child’s life no matter how much good it may bring. For example, a stepparent cannot make any medical decisions. Only the legal parents may make medical decisions. If the child gets ill, the court does not grant a stepparent the legal authority to decide medical care.
Stepparents have stricter limitations in things like visitation and traveling as well. These rules stem from judgements made during the divorce and are not helped by angry exes.
However, the love of a stepparent can come in the form of a transition such as legal adoption. It is one of the most joyous moments a stepparent can experience.
If you’re ready to make that commitment and need to take the next step, contact us now. We would love to help you on this legal journey.