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Responsibilities for creating a parenting plan for stepchildren

Parents of blended families in Michigan may come across a complicated issue when they divorce. They may wonder what their rights and responsibilities are when their soon-to-be ex-spouse has a child from another relationship with whom they have bonded. Are they legally responsible for caring for that child after the divorce?

Legally, there is no law that says a stepparent must remain in a stepchild's life after a divorce. However, it is possible that both parties may wish to maintain a relationship after the divorce. This is common if the child lived with the couple full-time, and the child is still relatively young.

If the couple were together for a long time, a bond has likely formed between the child and stepparent. Although there are stories of stepchildren and stepparents hating each other, many children are affected emotionally when they lose contact with the stepparent. Sometimes the couple's relationship goes so sour that the stepparent fails to see it and wants nothing to do with the ex-spouse or the child.

If the child wants to continue the relationship, the stepparent can request visitation rights. It must be proven to the court that the child stands to benefit from a parenting plan that allows visits - with the other parent's permission. The court will consider the best interests of the child as well as the stepparent's relationship with the child.

A visitation plan might ensure that the child gets to spend time with all the adults who are important to him or her. It's always a good idea for children to have positive role models in their lives - even if the role model in question is their mother's or father's former spouse.

Source: Herald-Review, "Former stepparent should stay involved if child wants him to" Jann Blackstone, Feb. 01, 2014

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