Sometimes, when people date and get in a serious relationship, kids come into the picture. Many times, if the relationship lasts long enough and is serious enough, the relationship between non-related adults and kids becomes like a parent-child relationship.
But what happens when the relationship ends or there are problems with the kids? Does the non-related parent have any rights?
The answer is complicated and is a great example of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If the non-related adult and the parent get married, they can easily file for a step-parent adoption. If the adults are married but they have not done the adoption, then the non-related adult can petition a court for step-parent visitation. If the adults are the biological parents of the children, they can file for a paternity order.
The difficulty arises when none of these preventative measures have been taken and something goes wrong with the parent or the children.
At that point, the only available option is to petition the Juvenile Court for custody based on allegations of child abuse or neglect. The allegations must be serious and documentable before this becomes an advisable idea.
If you’re in a relationship with someone who has kids that may as well be your own, or if something has happened and you need to discuss custody options for those kids, give us a call for a case assessment. Together, we should be able to put preventative measures in place or take protective action to make sure that your relationship with the kids is preserved and that the kids are safe.
Call (865) 685-4780to schedule a case assessment for step-parent adoption, visitation, or child custody.