NEW MARYLAND DECISION GIVES STEP-PARENTS POST-DIVORCE VISITATION RIGHTS WITH STEP-CHILDREN
Historically, step-parents in Maryland were not awarded visitation rights with their step-children following a divorce with the children’s biological parent. The traditional view was that the biological parents of children had full control over who could see their children and the courts would not interfere in that decision-making process. As a result, step-parents typically had no parental rights – including the right of visitation – with respect to their step-children following a divorce from the children’s biological parent.
A recent decision from the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, however, has changed that. In Kpetigo v,. Kpetigo, ____ Md. App. ___ (2018), the Maryland Court of Special Appeals held that a step-parent could be awarded visitation rights with a step-child if visitation with the step-parent was in the child’s best interest. In deciding the issue, trial courts will look to, among other factors, 1) whether there was a parent like relationship between the step-parent and child that was consented to by the biological parent; 2) whether the step-parent and child lived together, 3) the nature of the relationship between the step-parent seeking visitation and the child and, 4) the bond that was established between them.
If you have questions regarding step-parent visitation rights, or any other Maryland family law issue, please call our office at (301) 444-4660. We would be happy to assist you.