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Family law: Stepparents' rights in British Columbia

Stepparents usually develop nurturing, positive and loving relationships with their stepchildren. When a couple in a blended family divorces, it may be that stepparents wish to maintain those relationships with their stepkids, and family law in British Columbia paves the way for them to do so. If it is in the best interests of the children to continue having contact with their stepparents, there are a number of ways in which this can happen.

Biological parents who understand the importance their children have with a soon-to-be former spouse may be more open to discussing setting up a visitation schedule. If a decision is made, it can be included in a legally-binding agreement. There are self-help guides available in British Columbia to help couples in these situations and when a stepparent wishes to establish guardianship of a child, there are family law tools to help them in this regard as well.

Stepparents may also have to pay child support in certain instances. They can if a stepparent was married or living common law with a child's biological parent for at least two years and also lived with the child. But a stepparent is responsible for providing financially only after a biological parent or a guardian. A family law judge will decide on support based on various markers such as how long the couple was together, whether the child lived with them and whether a stepparent provided financially for the child during the marriage.

A British Columbia family law lawyer would be able to advise a stepparent regarding his or her relationship with a stepchild based on his or her individual circumstances. Obtaining legal advice may be a wise idea before proceeding with drafting any type of agreement that concerns children or moving forward with applying for guardianship. A lawyer may be able to provide guidance in the use of family law tools.

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