Step-parents have no "legal" rights. In other words, they have no right to custody or visitation, they have no legal say in the upbringing of the children, no decision-making rights in terms of choosing schools, doctors, religions, etc. Nevertheless, they do have some limited ability to be involved in the children's lives. Though it isn't a "right," nothing in the law prevents them from discipling the children, babysitting the children, and otherwise helping raise the children so long as the spouse of the step-parent agrees. A step-parent should never get in the way of parenting by the biological or legal parents, though. The "real" parents should always come first in the children's lives.
Law Office of Alejandro R. Lopez, P.A.
Alejandro R. Lopez, Esq.
4465 Edgewater Dr.,
Orlando, Fla. 32804
Ph.: (407) 649-1404
Fax: (407) 649-9890
Step parents do not have legal rights over your children. However, because they usually reside with the children's parent, they have sometimes substantial contact with the children which they can either use for good or for evil. You can do two things:
1. The first is to read your custody/visitation/parental responsibility order from the court to determine if it has any terms forbidding the stepparent from doing certain things. If those terms are not there, you can then:
A. ask your ex to, voluntarily and by mutual consent, modify the order by written agreement (which must be approved by the court with a court order) to include terms in your order reflecting what the stepmother can and cannot do and what the stepfather (once they have one at all) can and cannot do. If your ex refuses, you may have to take the case with litigation in open court to modify your order reflecting why it is not in the children's best interests to have this influence from the stepmother. This second step can be very expensive in court for certain reasons which I unfortunately cannot explain here due to the complexity of the case.
B. The second way is to actually train your children as to what is good and bad for the time when they arrive to meet the stepmother in person (stepmother has no right to call them at your house, to speak to them when they are with you, etc.). Once the children are with the stepmother, however, she may take control and put your ex in a corner (or maybe he may place himself there). So, you must train the kids (if they are old enough) to pay attention to the reasonable requests from the father, but to avoid the stepmother's comments, and/or not to give the stepmother information (specially about your private life).
Wish you the best of luck!
Alejandro R. Lopez, Esq.
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