A stepparent in British Columbia who separates from that child’s legal parent may still maintain a relationship with that child. In some cases, each party will agree to visitation and custody arrangements assuming that such visitation or custody is in the best interest of the child. If the two parties cannot agree on their own, it may be up to a judge to determine if a step-parent should have visitation or custody rights.
A stepparent may be allowed to become the legal guardian of the child. A judge will have to determine whether or not it would be in the child’s best interest. Furthermore, guardianship cannot be granted outside of a court order even if it is part of a written agreement.
Depending on the nature of the relationship between the stepparent and the child, the stepparent may be responsible for paying child support. This may be true if the stepparent was married to the child’s parent for two years and also lived with the child. Additionally, the stepparent would need to have supported the child financially for one year. An application for child support would need to filed no more than a year after the separation took place. If these two conditions are not met, a stepparent generally does not owe child support for stepchildren.
Parents who seek child support or cannot agree on other parenting arrangements may wish to speak with a family lawyer. A lawyer may be able to help establish that he or she is entitled to support or custody. This may be done by proving that providing increased support or parenting rights is in the best interest of the child, which trumps the interest of any other party involved.
Source: Family Law in British Columbia, “Step-parents’ rights and responsibilities“, November 26, 2014
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