When a parent gets remarried, the stepparent may assume the role of caretaker for the stepchildren. Yet, what rights does a stepparent have in an Oregon divorce? With one in three marriages ending in divorce, according to the Oregon Health Authority, it's a question more and more families are grappling with.
Oregon law mandates that biological parents, adoptive parents, and legal guardians have a legal obligation to provide for their children's financial, emotional, physical, psychological, and health needs. However, stepparents do not automatically have the same rights as a biological or adoptive parent.
While the presumption is that the legal parent is in the best interest of the child, stepparents can overcome that presumption by demonstrating their relationship with the child meets the psychological parent doctrine. Under this doctrine, a stepparent who establishes an emotional parent-child relationship with the stepchild may petition for custody or visitation time on the same footing as the child's parent.
Oregon law allows stepparents to seek custody or parenting time in a divorce. However, the stepparent must show evidence that they are the primary caretaker, that the legal parent encouraged or fostered the relationship with the stepchild, that the legal parent unreasonably limited contact between the stepparent and stepchild, or that the legal parent is unable or unwilling to take care of the stepchild.
If the stepparent adopted the stepchild during the marriage, they have the same rights as the legal parent. In such cases, both parents have equal rights and responsibilities to the custody and control of the children. The stepparent can seek custody or parenting time as a legal parent and has the right to seek child support from the other parent if awarded custody.
As the number of blended families continues to rise, it's crucial to understand the complexities of stepparent rights in an Oregon divorce. At #PacificFamilyLawFirm, we're dedicated to providing compassionate and informed guidance for all family law matters.