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Are Texas individuals entitled to visitation of ex-stepchildren?

Divorce is not uncommon in Texas, nor is it unheard of for an individual to divorce multiple times. In fact, a second marriage is more likely to end in divorce than a first marriage. Often, second marriages blend families. Such a complex weaving of relationships can be confusing to navigate for parents, stepparents, ex-stepparents, stepsiblings, half-siblings and any other extension of a blended family member.

When one individual is remarrying another individual that has been divorced, and both have children from previous relationships, the marrying couple has each acquired some stepchildren. So what if the marriage doesn't last? Are those kids now ex-stepchildren? Does the ex-stepparent, who may have grown incredibly close to their stepchild, have any legal say in what happens after a divorce to their ex-stepchild?

According to one sociology and public policy professor at John Hopkins, "This is a new era, really on the frontier of American family life and kinship. We don't really know whether there is enough bonding to make a step-relationship survive the breakup of the family."

Ultimately, an ex-stepparent that is not a legal guardian does not have any legal say over their ex-stepchild. No matter how much they care for the child, they can't go to a court and demand visitation. Often, in the wake of a divorce, former-stepfamily members will drift apart. But not always. If a stepparent does wish to maintain a relationship, they may be able to successfully do so, providing the child is receptive, and the adult's intentions are pure and in the best interest of the child.

Source: The New York Times, "When Branches Tangle in a Stepfamily Tree," Elissa Gootman, Oct. 3, 2012

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