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Step-Parent Parental Rights – Are There Any?

With current divorce rates at 50% or more, it is no wonder that the dynamics of a family are ever changing.  Family is often no longer a nuclear definition of only two parents.  When a mother or father divorces and remarries, there is a new adult that assumes the step-parent role.  If the second marriage fails, does the step-parent have any custodial or parental rights to their step-children?

Short answer – no.  Minnesota law does however provide for a possible remedy of Court ordered visitation.  Minn. Stat. 257C.08 Subd. 4 allows a non-parent who has resided with a minor child for more than two (2) years to petition the Court for “reasonable visitation” during the child’s minority.  The Court must look at three factors when determining what the reasonable visitation should be:

  1. Visitation rights would be in the best interests of the child;
  2. The petitioner and child had established emotional ties creating a parent and child relationship; and
  3. Visitation rights would not interfere with the relationship between the custodial parent and the child.

Although there are no legal rights likely available for the standard step-parent; Minnesota at least allows a step-parent to attempt to stay involved in their step-children’s lives if they so choose to and the Court determines it is in the minor children’s best interests.

Divorce is a difficult process and it is our hope at Howard Family Law, LLC that we can guide a client through the process with knowledge, compassion and support to move our clients forward into the new phases of their lives.

If you have questions related to a possible dissolution of marriage, child custody questions, or parenting time concerns, please do not hesitate to contact our office (952) 224-9410