Stepparent Rights in Minnesota
If you are a stepparent, the bond between you and your stepchildren can be very strong, but if you and your stepchildren’s mother or father are divorcing, protecting your rights as a stepparent is paramount. Fortunately, the State of Minnesota does recognize the rights of stepparents to seek visitation with their stepchildren in some situations. Your relationship with your stepchildren is enriching for you and the children, and an experienced Minnesota family law attorney can help protect your rights as a stepparent and your ongoing relationship with your stepchildren.
Your Rights as a Stepparent
In Minnesota, you can seek visitation with your stepchildren if all the following apply:
- You lived in the same home as your stepchildren for at least two years prior to your request for visitation.
- Having a visitation schedule with you would be in the best interests of the children involved.
- You and your stepchildren have established strong emotional bonds (like those created in relationships between parents and children).
- Your visitation schedule with your stepchildren would not interfere with their other parental relationships.
It is important to note, however, that Minnesota does not have a legal mechanism in place – short of stepparent adoption – for requiring stepparents to pay child support.
Best Interest Factors
While stepparents have no guaranteed rights in Minnesota, courts in the state will take the best interests of the children involved into careful consideration when considering your request for visitation. If the court determines that spending time with you supports the children’s best interests, it may rule in your favor. Some of the factors that can apply include:
- Each child’s physical, emotional, spiritual, and cultural needs and how allowing you visitation would affect these.
- Any special needs any of the children have, including those related to their physical and mental health, their education, and any special arrangements that may apply.
- Each child’s reasonable preferences on the matter (if the court considers the child in question capable of weighing in meaningfully)
- Your history of participating in raising the children to date
- Your willingness and ability to provide the children with the care they need
- The effect that your visitation with the children will have on their overall well-being and development
- The effect that your visitation schedule would have on the ongoing relationships each child has with each of his or her biological parents
- The benefits that having visitation with you will provide the children
- Your willingness and capacity to cooperate and communicate with your ex (your stepchildren’s parent) regarding the children
Ultimately, the court can take any other factors that it determines to be relevant to your request for visitation into careful consideration.
It’s Time to Consult with an Experienced Minnesota Family Law Attorney
The trusted Minnesota family law attorneys at Atticus Family Law have a wealth of experience successfully advocating for the visitation rights of stepparents like you, and we’re also here for you. To learn more about your rights as a stepparent and how you can help protect them, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.