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Can I Get Custody of My Stepchild in My Divorce?

It is not uncommon, particularly during a lengthy marriage, for a stepparent to become closely bonded to his or her stepchildren.  With today’s high divorce rates, there are more and more “blended families,” including stepchildren and stepparents.  When a couple with a blended family decide to divorce, the broken relationship between stepparent and stepchild can be heartbreaking.

As a result, many stepparents request visitation with or even custody of their stepchildren during a divorce. Under Georgia law, however, stepparents have no legal right to visitation with or custody of their stepchildren. Stepparents also are not liable for paying child support for their stepchildren.

Even if children wish to maintain a relationship with their former stepparents, they cannot do so without permission from their biological parents.  In the state of Georgia, biological parents have the right to dictate a child’s care and custody.  If a biological parent does not wish his or her child to have a relationship with a former stepparent, the divorce court has no ability to interfere.  Even if it is in the best interest of a child to maintain this type of relationship, the divorce court cannot force the biological parent to allow the child to do so.

The only exception to these rules is if the stepparent legally adopted a stepchild during the marriage.  In that case, the stepparent would be treated the same as if he or she were the biological parent of the child. In other words, the stepparent would be entitled to custody and visitation rights, and liable for child support payments, with respect to the child.

If you have questions about how best to handle your divorce case, the Shaw Law Firm LLC, can assist you.  We will evaluate your situation and advise you of our proposed strategy for your case. Contact us or call today to learn how Shaw Law can work with you to achieve the best outcome possible for you and your children.

Scott Shaw is founder and principle of Shaw Law Firm LLC, founded in 1995 and dedicated solely to divorce, family law and child custody matters that must be addressed and decided in the state of Georgia. Shaw Law Firm serves the greater Metro Atlanta area, particularly the counties of Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, Cherokee, Forsyth, Paulding, Henry, Fayette, Coweta, Newton, Walton, Bartow and Douglas. Schedule a consultation today at 770-594-8309.