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Stepparent Rights In a Long Island, NY Divorce

Stepparent Rights In a Long Island, NY Divorce

Stepparent Rights In a Long Island, NY Divorce

In most situations, divorce on Long Island, NY is complicated – but it can become even more so when it involves stepparents and stepchildren. While the divorce is between you and your spouse, there’s no denying that the children are involved and affected. With that in mind, it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities as a stepparent and how they are impacted by your divorce.

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Common Concerns in Stepfamily Divorce in New York

Family laws in every state, including New York, detail the rights and responsibilities of biological parents. But that is usually not the case for stepparents. For that reason, unless you have legally adopted your stepchild or become appointed as their legal guardian, you typically have minimal rights and responsibilities once the marriage to the children’s biological parent is terminated. This can be heartbreaking if you have been involved in your stepchildren’s lives for a significant period of time. You likely have thought of them, and cared for them as if they were your own biological children and the thought of not having any rights to be involved in their lives is hard to take.

Your Rights as a Stepparent on Long Island, NY

Ultimately, as you are going through a divorce, you will likely have questions and concerns about your status as a prominent figure in the lives of your stepchildren. In more amicable divorce situations, you might be granted visitation rights or be able to continue your relationship with your stepchildren in other ways. However, this is not a guarantee. In most cases, stepparents are expected to sever ties with their ex-partner’s children from a previous marriage once a divorce takes place.

This can be extremely challenging, as many stepparents form close bonds with their stepchildren, especially when they have been involved in their lives for many years. Because of that, it can be smart to consider adoption or legal guardianship while your marriage is still active to prevent the loss of these stepparent-stepchild relationships down the line.

FAQs About Stepparent Rights and Responsibilities on Long Island, New York

Do stepparents have to pay child support on Long Island, NY?

Typically, stepparents will not be obligated to pay child support for their spouse’s children during a Long Island, NY divorce in Nassau or Suffolk counties. That is not to say that it never happens – the court will typically consider the stepparent’s income and the effect that it will have on contributing to the children’s basic needs.

If you have adopted your stepchildren, then you will be personally liable for paying child support. Why? Because the child’s other parent (the former partner of your spouse) will have to dissolve their parental rights in order for the adoption to take place. If the child’s biological parent has terminated their parental rights for adoption, then the stepparent is the legal caregiver of the child and will be responsible for child support at a judge’s discretion.

Can stepparents get custody of children after a Long Island, NY divorce?

When it comes to gaining custody of your stepchild, New York’s laws can get relatively complex. There are many factors to consider, but generally speaking, New York state law does not grant stepparents custody rights.

However, if you have legally adopted your stepchild, you have the same rights and responsibilities as a biological parent. New York state laws do not see any differences between biological and adoptive parents. These rights and responsibilities include child support, physical custody, legal custody, and more.

What responsibilities do stepparents have during a Long Island, NY divorce?

The responsibilities of a stepparent depend on whether the stepparent has legally adopted their stepchild. In most cases, stepparents play an important role in their stepchildren’s lives. It is becoming increasingly common for stepparent visitation agreements to be incorporated into a Stipulation of Settlement upon the dissolution of a marriage. In terms of responsibilities, stepparents typically do not have any legal responsibilities to their stepchildren after a divorce.

When should stepparents seek legal counsel in a Long Island, NY divorce?

If you have questions or concerns about your role as a stepparent in a divorce, if you want to adopt or become a legal guardian of your stepchild, or if you believe you qualify for visitation rights, you should seek representation from a trusted family law attorney. These procedures require the assistance of a certified and experienced lawyer.

Choose Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. When You Need Trusted Legal Advice for Your Long Island, NY Divorce

If you have questions about your rights and responsibilities as a stepparent in your divorce case, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. We have experience working with many different types of modern families, and we can help you achieve a resolution that benefits everyone – including you, your children, and your stepchildren.

Contact us to learn more about your legal options or book a free initial consultation to discuss your case in detail. Call now at 631-923-1910 or complete our short contact form, and we’ll get in touch with you.

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About the Author

Robert E. Hornberger, Esq., Founding Partner, Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C.

  • Over 20 years practicing matrimonial law
  • Over 1,000 cases successfully resolved
  • Founder and Partner of Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C.
  • Experienced and compassionate Long Island Divorce Attorney, Family Law Attorney, and Divorce Mediator
  • Licensed to practice law in the State of New York
  • New York State Bar Association member
  • Nassau County Bar Association member
  • Suffolk County Bar Association member
  • “Super Lawyer” Metro Rising Star
  • Nominated Best of Long Island Divorce Attorney four consecutive years
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee Contributor
  • Collaborative Law Association of New York – Former Director
  • Martindale Hubbell Distinguished Designation
  • America’s Most Honored Professionals – Top 5%
  • Lead Counsel Rated – Divorce Law
  • American Institute of Family Law Attorneys 10 Best
  • International Academy of Collaborative Professionals
  • Graduate of Hofstra University School of Law
  • Double Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy, Politics & Law and History from SUNY Binghamton University
Divorce Lawyer Long Island New York
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Melissa Rappa
Melissa Rappa
18:09 08 Feb 24
At one of the hardest and most stressful times of my life, it was so comforting to have a team at Hornberger and Verbitsky who ALWAYS responded in record speed to my questions, phone calls, emails or texts and who I felt really cared about helping me through this difficult time. It was a long few years and I am grateful to all of you. Thank you so much Rob, AnneMarie, Christine, Patty, Joan and Lawrence. Your guidance, professionalism and expertise is appreciated beyond measure.
Paul Carmichael
Paul Carmichael
16:21 11 Dec 23
I would give 6 stars if I could. I can't say enough good things about Robert and his firm. We were in a situation for over 2 years and I could have never made it through without Robert's experience and knowledge. He guided me through tough times when needed and his expertise could "read" the situation and make the next best move for me. He was tough when he needed to be tough (thankfully) and at the same time guided me through the process to make me feel comfortable in an uncomfortable situation. I would not want to go through this process without Robert and his team having my back. he helped move the case along and not waste any time or money. One last time, I 100% endorse Robert and his expertise.

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Long Island Family Law Attorney Explains Step-Parent Adoption in Nassau County, Suffolk County

Long Island Family Law Attorney Explains Step-Parent Adoption in Nassau County, Suffolk County

Long Island Family Law Attorney Explains Step-Parent Adoption in Nassau County, Suffolk County

As a Family Law attorney whose practice mainly serves residents of Nassau County and Suffolk County on Long Island, we see many second marriages where the couple has a desire to adopt their spouses children.

In some circumstances, when a natural parent is remarried, a child can be adopted by a stepparent. Because the relationship between a child and stepparent plays an important part in a child’s development, stepparent adoption is a choice that in many cases supports the best interest of the child and the family as a whole. Adoption laws in New York are geared toward serving the best interests of the child while protecting the birth parents. Because of New York’s strong public policy in favor of providing children with their parents’ emotional and financial support, stepparent adoption is often supported by the law when the noncustodial parent is not involved in the child’s life or does not provide support for the child.


Stepparent Adoptions are Simpler on Long Island (more…)