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Delaware County Stepparent Rights Lawyer

Advocate for the Rights of Stepparents in Delaware County

Stepparents often play an important role in their stepchildren’s lives, providing the same level of care and guidance as biological parents. In Pennsylvania, stepparents have different rights than biological and adoptive parents. If you have a stepchild under your care, it is important to speak with an experienced Delaware County family law lawyer to learn about your rights under the law.

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What Are the Adoption Rights of Stepparents in Pennsylvania?

When a child lives with a biological parent and a stepparent, the stepparent may wish to adopt the child. This can be a complicated legal process. Stepparent adoption can occur with the consent of both biological parents. The noncustodial parent must sign a consent form terminating his or her parental rights. Some parents will agree to do so, because it is in the best interests of the child, or to avoid support obligations.

In some cases, a biological parent may fight to keep his or her parental rights, even if he or she has not been fulfilling the duties of a parent. Involuntary termination involving litigation may be required. Guided by the best interests of the child, the court will consider various factors, including whether the parent whose rights are in question has paid child support and how much contact he or she has had with the child. You need an aggressive Delaware County family law attorney who will protect your rights and the best interests of your stepchild.

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What Are the Support Obligations of Stepparents?

Unlike biological or adoptive parents, stepparents are not generally held legally responsible for the support of minor children. In some cases, however, a stepparent may have child support obligations after a marriage has ended if it is determined that the stepparent has stood in loco parentis to the child or has assumed the responsibilities of or acted as a parent during the marriage. A stepparent’s income does not factor into the amount of support a parent will pay or receive.

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Do Stepparents Have Custody Rights in Pennsylvania?

A stepparent who stands in loco parentis to a child will be given the same consideration by the court as the child’s biological or adoptive parent in determining custody. The court must always award custody based on the best interests of the child. This holds true even when it means denying custody to a biological or adoptive parent.

A person who has acted in a parental role to a child, in loco parentis, has a right to seek custody in Pennsylvania. This applies to stepparents as well as grandparents and other relatives. When a biological parent is not in the picture, a stepparent may be the only father or mother the child has ever known. The child’s bond with a stepparent can be stronger than his or her bond with a birth parent. Family law courts in Pennsylvania recognize that the nature of a child’s relationship with a stepparent is more important than the biological facts.

In deciding whether to award custody to a stepparent, the court will determine if an in loco parentis relationship, like that of a parent, exists in fact. To obtain custody of a stepchild, you must show that you have an established parental role in the minor child’s life and a relationship that is loving, supportive, and healthy.

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Do You Need a Delaware County Family Law Attorney?

If you are dealing with legal matters concerning a stepchild, such as adoption, custody, or support obligations, it is in your best interests to speak with an experienced Delaware County stepparent rights attorney as soon as possible. At the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C., we have many years of experience and a successful track record for our clients. Contact us at (866) 290-9292.

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