Protecting Your Family's Future

Visitation Rights for Step-Parents

You love your stepchildren as if they were your own biological children. You nurtured them. You watched them grow. You celebrated their achievements. You picked the kids up. You fed them dinner. You worked the calendar. You loved them wholeheartedly. And now you’re getting a divorce.

How do you continue to maintain a loving relationship with your stepchildren after divorce? Are you scared that the divorce will spell the end of your relationship with your stepkids? What are the rights of stepparents when it comes to visitation with their stepchildren?

In the past, stepparents’ rights to visit their step children after a divorce didn’t really happen. However, with more than 50 percent of all marriage ending in divorce and an even higher percentage of second marriages ending in divorce, stepparents’ rights are part of the conversation of divorce these days.

Many states allow stepparents to seek visitation rights. Other states allow “interested third parties” to request visitation rights. Judges will look at factors that include these, when making a decision about granting you visitation rights:

  • How long have you played a parental role to the children?
  • How involved are you with the children on a day-to-day basis?
  • How close is the bond between you and the children?
  • What financial contributions have you made to the support of the children?
  • How much detriment or harm will come to the children if you are no longer involved in their daily lives?

This last, detriment, is especially critical when the biological parent does not want to allow you visitation access to the children. The judge will decide based on the other factors and how harmful it will be to the children not to have you in their lives. This is because the family law standard is to act in accordance with what is in the best interest of the children.

As you move toward the divorce, talk to your partner about visitation with the stepkids and how you can continue to play a role in the children’s lives. Ideally, the biological parent will support this idea for the children’s sake.

As for the children, no matter what happens, let them know how much you love them, how much you want to be in their lives, and that you are divorcing your partner, not them. Work hard to stay connected and levelheaded with your soon-to-be ex as that will help in fostering more continuity for the children.

Custody and Visitation, Divorce, Post-Divorce, and Family Law Attorney, Baytown, Texas

Stewart Law, PLLC, located in Baytown, Texas, provides legal counsel to parents and stepparents involved in issues relating to visitation and custody, enforcing a divorce decree, child support, divorce, and other family law cases. If you have questions about any family law matter, we can give you advice that will help you decide how to proceed. For an initial assessment and consultation, contact our family law firm online or call our office at
(281) 420-8020, at a reduced fee of $50.

My Spouse Is Turning My Kids Against Me

Children have no say about their parents divorcing. Their stable worlds are threatened when parents separate and divorce. And even if the divorce is a friendly, cooperative divorce, the child will still grieve the loss. When a parent tries to turn a child against the other parent, it’s the child who often suffers the most, not the other parent.

Sadly, this practice is more common than you would think. There is even a name for it: parental alienation syndrome. It happens most often when the divorce was bitter and there was a custody battle between the two parents.

Sometimes, the custodial parent is so angry that he or she cannot stop from saying bad things about the other parent. When a parent is angry with the other parent and has not resolved these difficult feelings, he or she may also take revenge against that parent by essentially forcing the child to take sides against the other parent. In the most extreme form, the otherwise healthy parent-child bond could be destroyed.

If you are going through a divorce and you suspect that your spouse is turning your kids against you, you must fight this situation, for the sake of your child. First, set boundaries for yourself and for your child that are clear. Do not allow yourself to be drawn into fights with your ex. Do not say anything about your ex to your children when they are with you. As well, even if you have your children just one weekend every other weekend, provide a stable routine for them during that time. If you can live close to your children, do so. This will show them that you love them deeply and will help to counteract the lies that are being told about you. And do all you can to document this as well as document the lies that your spouse is telling about you.

Get support of a counselor who understands the intricacies of parental alienation syndrome and how to combat it. Get support for your grief and other difficult feelings. It will help you be able to still be loving to your children when they act like they are afraid of you or choose not to see you. It is difficult, clearly, especially when you are still dealing with the big feelings from a contentious divorce. Nonetheless, get the support for yourself and do not give up.

Dealing With a Spouse Who Is Trying to Turn the Kids Against You? Contact a Family Law Attorney

Stewart Law, PLLC, located in Baytown, Texas, has provided legal counsel to men and women in divorce and other family law cases for 8 years. If you have questions relating to step-child adoption, we can give you advice that will help you decide how to proceed. For an initial assessment and consultation, contact our family law firm online or call our office at
(281) 420-8020, at a reduced fee of $50.

A Look at Parental Alienation Syndrome

Even though the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook, CT, is over, those who remain live and grieve are still feeling the effects.  Particularly, things such as photos, memorabilia and memories will remain internalized.  This will transform over time into an internal aching that never really goes away.  More frequent and common violence on children leaves in question the idea of Parental Alienation Syndrome which is fast becoming a major problem in our country.  This syndrome arises when a noncustodial parent is made out to be a “bad person” and deprived of his/her child at the decisions of a custodial parent.  As a result, the children are brainwashed by the custodial parent.  They are told that the alienated parent has left them and abandoned them.  See more here.

In an article and study written by Dr. Richard A. Gardner in 1998 called The Parental Alienation Syndrome (Second Edition), by Creative Therapeutics, Inc., Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is defined as a childhood disorder which results from previous experience with a child-custody dispute.  As described by Dr. Gardner, it results from a programming where parents impress their theories and beliefs on a child combined with a child’s own contributions of beliefs about the “targeted” parent.   One Texas case was Ochs vs. Martinez, 789 S.W. 2d 949 which was decided by the Texas Court of Appeals in 1990.

PAS is one of many issues that arise when a divorce occurs.  That is why it is important to handle such decisions in one’s life with great care and awareness. Stewart Law, PLLC provides legal counsel to men and women in divorce and family law matters.  They have been working for more than 8 years in this field, and understand a client’s concerns about the cost of effective legal counsel. Stewart Law, PLLC works hard to find affordable solutions to reach their client’s goals. For an initial assessment and consultation of your case, contact us online or call our office at (281) 420-8020, at a reduced fee of ($50).

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