While the rights of stepparents have expanded over the years, they’re not entitled to the same rights as a parent. The Washington Supreme Court reinforced this idea in a recent decision that said a divorced stepfather couldn’t claim a legal right to visitation with his former stepdaughter.
In that case, the stepfather married the girl’s mother when the girl was a baby. When they divorced, he asked a court to name him as a “de facto” parent, which would give him the ability to remain in the girl’s life.
But the court refused. “When [the stepfather] entered her life, [the child’s] legal parents and their respective roles were already established,” the court said. The stepfather didn’t have a legal right to become, in effect, a third parent.