Can a step parent be forced to take responsibility for the care of my step children? 18 Answers as of July 03, 2013

Since I got married my step mother and husband have told me that his children are now my responsibility and I have to take care of them even my newborn daughter is still in the hospital. Is it now my legal responsibility to take care of them or do I have rights that are being violated?

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Law Office of Roianne H. Conner
Law Office of Roianne H. Conner | Roianne Houlton Conner
There are no rights being violated but no you do not have to care for children that are not your children biologically.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 8/19/2011
Beaulier Law Office
Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
A step parent has no legal rights or responsibilities with regard to unadopted step children.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 8/18/2011
Law Offices of Paul A. Eads, A.P.C.
Law Offices of Paul A. Eads, A.P.C. | Paul A. Eads
No obligation to step-children whatsoever.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/18/2011
Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
As a step-parent you have responsibilities arising in common law, but you do not have a legal duty for support. Stated another way, you have no parental rights to step-children in your own name/right. Your rights and duties where step-children are concerned are derived through your husband. If the children's mother were to seek and acquire termination of your husbands parental rights, all your rights and duties would die along with his even though you are not involved in the lawsuit. This is a two way street, rights, duties, obligations - if any - are your husbands and your responsibility is to and for your step-children is that which you accept via his delegation. I don't know if that answered your question or not. As for violating your rights . . . you do not have a right to "ignore" minor children to which you have some responsibility. But, marriage is a partnership of shared responsibilities, if you married this guy knowing there are step-children, you entered the marriage agreeing to share some of his rights and duties. The degree to which you accepted is between you and your husband. Note however, his ex (the mother of the children) cannot force you to take the kids, nor does your husband have the right to simply go get his kids, bring them over and expect you to provide babysitting duties.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 8/17/2011
Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A.
Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A. | Joanna Mitchell
Technically, they are not your legal responsibility. However, any child that is residing under the same roof as you is entitled to being properly cared for and not neglected, endangered or abused, so yes, in that sense, you have a both a moral and legal responsibility to care for your step children.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 8/17/2011
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    Your facts and question are a bit confusing, but in general no one can force you to take any legal responsibility for children that are not your children. However, if you married a man who has primary custody of his children, you obviously assumed some degree of general moral responsibility when you agreed to marry him knowing that his kids came with the territory. If those are unacceptable terms for remaining married, you should seek to divorce him. In the divorce you will not be compelled to care for them or to pay child support for them.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/17/2011
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni | Jay W. Neff
    A parent has an obligation to care for and support his or her child. As a step-parent also has to help in that endeavor, at least, as long as you are married to the parent. However, you are not a galley slave. The fact that your spouse and your spouse's mother want to treat you like a galley slave makes me wonder how good a situation you are really in.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/17/2011
    The Coyle Law Office
    The Coyle Law Office | T. Andrew Coyle
    As a general rule, the only people who have a legal obligation to financially provide for a child are the biological or adoptive parents. Step parents do not usually have such an obligation.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 8/16/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    you have no legal responsibility; only your husband does.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 8/16/2011
    Horizons Law Group, LLC
    Horizons Law Group, LLC | Michelle B. Fitzgerald
    No, it's not your legal responsibility unless you adopt them. They likely mean that since you married her knowing she had children, you knew you would be marrying the whole package so-to-speak and to help take care of the children. If they mean more than that, they are incorrect.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 8/16/2011
    Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation
    Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation | Paul Wallin
    You have no legal obligation to care for your stepchildren. However, if they are young and you leave them alone, you could be accused of child endangerment. The best course would be to move out of the residence and no longer live in the home and then you cannot be held responsible for these children.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/16/2011
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    I can't tell from your question what your relationship is to the other people in your question.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/16/2011
    The Law Offices of Robert W. Bellamy
    The Law Offices of Robert W. Bellamy | Robert W. Bellamy
    You need to contact DHR for help. This question raises too many issues.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 7/3/2013
    Law Office of James Lentz
    Law Office of James Lentz | James Lentz
    Unless you accept the responsibility, you have no obligation to raise or care for step children. That having been said, were they a part of the family before you got married? See a local domestic relations lawyer for a full analysis of your rights.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 8/16/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    You have no legal responsibility to step children.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/16/2011
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock | Arlene D. Kock
    There are deeper psychological issues here involving your standing in your relationship to your husband and his mother's invasive role in your marriage. You have no legal obligation to care for or financially support the children from this prior marriage.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/16/2011
    Law Office of Rhonda Ellifritz | Rhonda Ellifritz
    If you have not legally adopted his children, you are not legally obligated to care for them. That is the responsibility of the biological mother and father. To take that a little further, you are not obligated to support them. The legal parents (by birth or legal adoption) can be court ordered to provide support.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/16/2011
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