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I've been her step-mom for 8 years, now I'm getting a divorce

barefoot step's picture

I have been in my step-daughter's life since she was 8 months old. We had 50/50 custody and I was a stay-at-home parent to her since she was a baby. I have done most of the pick ups and drop offs, and spent more time with her than either of her biological parents, as they both had full time jobs. I have worked part-time but always kept my schedule flexible to be available to parent her. She has called me Mom since she was a baby and views me as one of her true parents, not a step-parent. I don't have any other children.

She is now 8 years old, and after many many years of a bad marriage (which I have primarily stayed in because I didn't want to lose my step-daughter), I am getting divorced. Of course I have no legal rights to my daughter, and am at the mercy of her two biological parents as far as what kind of time I can spend with her. 

I do believe they will allow me to continue to be a part of her life, but my question is HOW? Having her go between 3 separate homes seems awful and not good for her, but having me abandon her after being her primary parent and suddenly play a very limited role in her life seems bad for her too. I am going around and around in my mind with different time-sharing / co-parenting scenarios, but cannot figure out what is best for her. She loves all of her family and will be sad to lose time with any of us. The reality is that she is closer to me than to her Dad, but he legally has the rights to more time with her. 

I have scoured the internet trying to find ANY story or example of a similar situation and how people made it work, but have come up with nothing. I'm hoping that maybe someone here has a similar story, or can at least give advice on what type of time sharing arrangement might work best? I would be so grateful for any advice.

Goodluck's picture

Go ahead..sue both dad and mom for visitation. May cost you 3 to 5K

Good Luck and please keep us posted.



Rags's picture

Tough one.  As a Sparent you have no rights.  As a no longer married to a BP former Sparent you really have no rights.  You may be able to sue for visitation rights but may also end up with a CS obligation if you do.

Consult an attorney to advise you.

Good luck.

CLove's picture

You are not and never will be her parent. One poster on here actually got the divorce and the stepson lives with her. Another, adopted his SS after several years. These stories are far between and rare.

Im sorry you had a bad marriage! At least you do not share a child with your ex. No matter what happens, however, you can stay in contact with her as a support person and be in her life as she gets older. Hope for the best, however you have no rights at all for time sharing.

Stepmommy14's picture

You need to stay in her life. I disagree with everyone else. You are a parent, just not legally. You wont get anything from the courts but you need to stay amicable with your ex so he will let you take her to movies, ice cream dates, the mall etc. She will be devastated if you exit her life abruptly

ldvilen's picture

I have to add a caveat here that this is all dependent on the parents and the court system.  You could want to see her from sun-up to sun-down and there is virtually no way to force a continuation of your relationship.  

It is definitely wonderful you want to stay in her life, but, again, step-parents even being married to one of the bio-parents have very few rights when it comes to a bios' child.  Even in that case, they pretty much only have whatever rights the bio-parent they are married to is willing to give them (something pretty much everyone seems to conveniently forget).  So, no matter what, you are pretty much at the mercy of the bio-parents.  

Yes, she will be devastated if you exit her life abruptly, but the court system won't care, and even the bio-parents may not care.  It is up to the bios, regardless.  My nephew just had to go through something very similar.  He loved his step-daughter so much.  But, BM didn't hesitate to use her as a weapon.  BM started dating quickly after their breakup and didn't want "old" daddy around as she wanted to promote whomever she was with at the moment as "new" daddy.  My nephew was hurt so badly by all of this, and he was 99.9% at the mercy of BM.  It got to be too much for him, too sad, and even hard for his ex-SD.  

The even sadder thing is, I'm sure the story ex-SD will hear growing up (she was about the same age as your's) is that blankety-blank ex-stepdad didn't care and gave up on her.  Revisionist history.  Perhaps someday when she is an adult she will reach out to him again.  Who knows?  As much as it hurts, the only way you stay in her life is if at least one of the bio-parents permits it, and it doesn't matter if you feel you are really more of a parent than SP.  Just the way it goes. 

Stepmommy14's picture

Kudos to you for thinking all this through. Most people wouldn't care what happens to their skid. 

ldvilen's picture

I actually do think many step-parents care what happens to their SKs.  However, I think what often happens is, as one recent poster so cleverly stated: "I forgave and forgave and hit the reset button so many times that my 'forgiver' is no longer working. I'm done."