Do Stepparents Have Rights In An Oregon Divorce?

Do Stepparents Have Rights In An Oregon Divorce?

Parents have a legal obligation to take care of their children’s financial, emotional, physical, psychological and health needs. A parent is a biological parent, adoptive parent or legal guardian whose legal rights have not been terminated. When a parent gets remarried, the stepparent may care for the stepchildren in the same manner as the parent. However, the stepparent does not automatically become a legal parent.

Should the couple get a divorce, the stepparent may have rights concerning the stepchildren.

A stepparent may be able to seek parenting time or child custody in the divorce. Under the psychological parent doctrine, a stepparent who established an emotional parent-child relationship with the stepchild may petition for custody or visitation time on the same footing as the child’s parent. Oregon law presumes that the legal parent is in the best interest of the child. However, the stepparent can overcome the presumption to obtain custody or visitation rights by showing evidence of:

1. Being the primary caretaker;
2. The legal parent encouraged or fostered the relationship between the stepparent and stepchild;
3. The legal parent unreasonably denied or limited contact between the stepparent and stepchild; or
4. The legal parent is unable or unwilling to take care of the stepchild.

If the stepparent adopted the stepchild during the marriage, they have the same rights as the legal parent. Now both parents have equal rights and responsibilities to the custody and control of the children. The stepparent has the right to seek custody or parenting time as a legal parent. If the stepparent is awarded custody of the adopted stepchild, they will always have the right to seek child support from the other parent.

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