The end of a romantic relationship is never easy. Add children to the equation and the complexity increases exponentially—it can be particularly difficult for men that developed a strong bond with their ex’s children. Terminating the relationship with mom usually means terminating the relationship with the kids, unless the man is the biological or adoptive father.
The prospect of severing ties with the kids can be devastating for both the man and the children. Assuming it is in the best interest of the children, what options do men have for maintaining contact post break-up?
There are two paths that can lead to the continuation of the relationship—visitation and custody. Visitation is frequently the most realistic vehicle to secure access for maintaining the bond between child and adult. Seeking custody can be difficult for anyone (Grandparents, extended family, etc.) unless there is sufficient reason based on protecting the child’s welfare.
What is the difference between custody and visitation?
Legal custody means that the parent (or guardian) has the right to make decisions regarding the needs of the child. These decisions include education, health care, religion and any other areas related to caring for and maintaining the wellbeing of the child.
Legal visitation in Oregon means the court has granted the noncustodial parent permission to visit the child. Visitation protects access to the child but doesn’t include the same decision making authority that is comes with custody.
In Oregon all custody and visitation decisions are based on what is best for the child. When making these decisions the court will use factors such as established relationships, the benefit or detriment of continuing a relationship, abuse, and the fitness of the primary caregiver.
Pursuing a continued relationship can be beneficial for both the adult and the child— and cultivating that contact will not create an obligation for the non-biological party to pay child support.
Stepfathers invest time, love, energy and financial resources into building stable and caring relationships with their children. But when faced with divorce, these caring and involved fathers can find their rights questioned. If you are a stepfather with divorce on the horizon, educate yourself on your options.
Speaking with an experienced divorce and family law attorney will provide you with accurate information about your rights, how to proceed, and potential outcomes of your case.
If you have legal questions, our managing attorney Colin Amos can provide you answers. Colin is happy to answer questions over the phone at no charge. And if your situation requires a more in-depth assessment, an in-office initial consultation is a flat fee of $95.
Call (503)731-8888 to speak with Colin today.