All families are different. It’s common for children to be raised in blended families, when both partners have children from previous relationships, or by gay and lesbian couples who are building a family of their own.
However, when there are a lot of people involved in raising children, things can get complicated, especially when the adults in the household are not married. A non-custodial parent might be annoyed that his or her ex-spouse live-in partner is helping choose doctors, schools and other decisions typically made by a child’s parents. The non-custodial parent would likely want to take action to ensure his or her child’s well-being.
When it comes to LGBT parents, an unmarried lesbian couple might have a biological child born to one of the women, or an unmarried gay couple might have fallen in love after one of them had already adopted a child. The partner who is neither the biological parent nor the adoptive parent in both instances might be wondering what legal influence they have over the child, if any.
In Virginia and most other states, a legal parent is a person who is legally-recognized, through birth or adoption, as a child’s parent. The legal parents, therefore, are the only ones with rights to custody of a child as well as possess the authority to make decisions about the child’s health, education, and overall well-being.
Divorced couples with children often have joint legal custody, where both can make decisions about health and other important circumstances, or sole legal custody, where only one parent has that decision-making power. A live-in partner, therefore, does not have any legal authority to make decisions regarding a child, even if he or she is considered a parental figure in the home. The live-in partner cannot consent to medical care or have rights to visitation in the event that the relationship comes to an end, or, if the legal parent should die. In other words, the live-in partner has no legal influence.
If your ex-spouse’s live-in partner is making decisions about your child’s overall well being, speak to a family law attorney with experience in unique custody issues.
If you are in a partnership and want legal rights to the child, take steps to legally adopt the child if possible. A family law attorney who understands the adoption process can help make it happen.
The experienced family law attorneys at the DiPietro Family Law Group have decades of experience handling all types of family law matters and are here to help you. Contact one of the DiPietro family law attorneys today to schedule a consultation with a caring professional at (888) 530-4374.