In Illinois, many times after a parent has a child, he or she ends up marrying someone else besides the child’s other parent. This occurs sometimes in situations where the children’s biological parents were never married or in situations where the biological parents are divorced. Therefore, many children have stepparents. In these situations, it is possible that stepparents play a major role in the stepchild’s life and they become very close.
If the stepparent is married to the parent who has custody of the child, they may want to gain custody of the child as well, especially if the stepparent has taken on the role of raising the child. This can happen in situations where the other parent is incapable of caring for the child. However, there are certain requirements that must be met though before a stepparent can gain custody of a child.
The first requirement is that the child must be at least 12 years old. The biological parent must be deceased or otherwise unable to care for the child anymore. The parent and stepparent must have been married for at least five years, resided together and the stepparent must have provided care for the child. The child must also want to live with the stepparent. Finally, as in all child custody decisions, it must be in the best interests of the child.
There are many different family situations in Illinois. In many cases a stepparent plays a significant role in a stepchild’s life. If the biological parent is no longer able to care for the stepchild, a stepparent may be able to gain custody. Experienced attorneys understand different family dynamics and may be a useful resource for one going through a custody matter.
Source: Illinois General Assembly, “750 ILCS 5/601” accessed on April 13, 2015