Third Party Stepparent Childcare
Parness, Jeffrey A.
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Stepparents with no formal adoptive ties who have developed with their stepchildren “familial bonds” or parental-like relationships should have greater statutory third party childcare standing even though they are not “de facto” parents. Such stepparent childcare should at least be recognized when a parent facilitated loving stepparent-stepchild relations and when the preservation of those relations furthers the child’s best, or perhaps compelling, interests, notwithstanding any current objections by the parent. Unfortunately, to date, American state lawmakers, chiefly legislators, have failed to address adequately stepparent childcare issues, as illustrated by a review of current statutes and some recent legislative initiatives. This article describes how new laws can preserve better the strong bonds between children and their stepparents while respecting constitutionally-recognized superior parental rights.