Living together with your stepchildren can mean that you develop a significant bond with them. The longer you remain married to their parent, the more important your stepchildren may become to you and vice versa.

Being a stepparent can be very meaningful, but can also leave you in a precarious position if you and your spouse decide to divorce. After all, if you have not formally adopted your stepchildren, you may not think that you have any right to a legal continued relationship with your stepchildren. Particularly if your ex isn’t amicable for your ongoing involvement in the lives of the children, you may feel like you have no options as a stepparent.

Thankfully, the laws in California do recognize that those without formal, legal or biological relationships with children can still play an important role in their life. Adults who aren’t parents can still potentially seek visitation for children in their lives.

You may be able to request visitation if it will benefit the kids

If your stepchildren have grown to love you and depend on you, the California family courts could very well agree with you if you assert that a continued relationship will benefit the children, even if your ex opposes your desire to spend time with them. Especially if you have played a major parental role in their lives, they may depend on you as much as they do on your spouse.

Provided that you can demonstrate that you have an existing, positive parental relationship with the children and that your continued involvement in their lives would be in their best interests, the courts could likely decide to award you visitation, much like they would for a grandparent who wants to spend time with her grandchildren despite the custodial parent objecting to their ongoing involvement.

It’s important to understand that it is the best interests of the children and not your desire for a relationship with them that will matter the most in the eyes of the court. If your ex won’t agree amicably to allow you to continue to play a role in their lives, asking the court to award you visitation could be a way to remain present for your stepchildren.