My sister and her wife (married in 2015 in the State of Arizona) are divorcing. My sister-in-law has one son from a previous relationship. The biological father has been absent from his life since he was a baby, and my sister has helped to raise him since he was two years old. He is now nine years old. I believe the biological father has relinquished his parental rights, and my sister intended to adopt her stepson before the decision to divorce was made, but the adoption was never completed. Does she have any recourse to pursue joint custody? Her wife has already stated that my sister has no legal right to her stepson, and my sister is concerned that the courts will agree with that position.
Your sister can ask the court to establish third party rights. These cases involve constitutional rights and are very complex. Alternatively, if she’s mostly concerned with visitation, it may be “easier” (process is the same, but burden of proof a little bit different) to obtain third party visitation.
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