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Detailing stepparent visitation rights in Tennessee

For many in Clarksville, the opportunity to start a family may not present itself during their first marriages, but rather their second. Oftentimes, one may enter into a second marriage with a spouse who already has children. In fact, data shared by the National Stepfamily Resource Center shows that 12.3 percent of American children under the age of 18 that live in a two-parent household are part of a stepfamily. During his or her marriage, a stepparent may easily grow to love his or her stepchildren just as though they were his or her own. If his or her marriage were to end, the question of whether or not he or she has any rights in relation to visitation will likely surface.

In some cases, stepparents may look seek permission to legally adopt their stepchildren, in which case the question of post-divorce visitation may be rendered moot. However, those who do not are still granted certain rights under Tennessee state law. According to Section 36-3-303 of the state’s Annotated Code, a stepparent may be granted visitation if two factors are met. The first is that he or she is shown to be continuing to provide support for the children. The second is if the court finds such visitation to be in the children’s best interests.

In determining what children’s best interests may be, the court may allow them to express a preference if they are over 12 years old. Other factors that may come into consideration include the nature of the relationship that the stepparent has with the children, his or her financial and personal stability, as well as the mental and physical well-being of the biological parent. 

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