Many stepparents in Arizona have questions about what their legal rights are regarding their stepchildren. The answer to that question largely depends on how involved the child’s biological parent is. Generally, however, stepparents do not have legal rights over their stepchildren.
As a person with a non-biological relationship to the child, a stepparent will not be able to assert rights regarding the child’s custody, placement, health or welfare. This means that the stepparent is not allowed to try to control the other biological parent’s access to the child. The stepparent will similarly be unable to make medical decisions on the child’s behalf.
If a court grants the stepparent custody rights with the child or if the stepparent has adopted the child, that is of course different. Stepparents may also be good witnesses in court if they can provide information regarding the biological parent in such areas as drug or alcohol abuse or child abuse. In the event the biological parent is not involved in the child’s life, courts may also agree to grant a stepparent custody of the child if no blood relative is available.
It can be very frustrating for a stepparent when a biological parent who has visitation with their spouse’s child fails to see them or to provide support. If it has been a very long time since the biological parent has visited the child or provided any support for them, it is possible that the stepparent may seek to terminate that parent’s rights in order to clear the way for adoption. A family law attorney may be better able to review the relevant facts and circumstances and then advise their client on what their chances are for obtaining such an outcome.