Do stepparents have visitation and custody rights?

divorce attorney Jill DuffyQuestion:

My current wife and I are getting a divorce and we each have children from previous marriages. We have agreed to allow each other to see the other’s children and it’s an amicable divorce. However, my ex-wife is trying to keep my current wife from seeing my children once we are divorced. Can she do that?

Also, prior to my ex-wife filing this, my wife served her with an ex parte personal protection order on behalf of my wife’s child who my ex-wife was harassing. Will the court take this into account?


Your question involves issues of stepparent visitation and custody rights.

In order to fully answer your question, I would need to know what your ex wife filed with the court to try to keep your current wife from visiting your children.

Upon your divorce and without a court order, your current wife does not have any custody or parenting time rights with your children from a former marriage. Michigan’s Child Custody Act does allow the court to award parenting time to people other than the parents of a child (MCL 722.27(1)(b)). In order to get parenting time or custody rights, your current wife would have to petition the court that has jurisdiction over the children from your first marriage (likely the court your first divorce was filed in).

You can agree to let your current wife spend time with your children when they are with you. Unless a court order or other agreement with your former wife prevents this, you are free to allow your current wife to visit the children while you have custody of them.

If a petition is filed with the court for visitation rights, it is likely that the court will take the PPO into consideration when determining your ex-wife’s motivations for arguing against allowing your current wife to spend time with the children.

Although I practice law in Michigan, I cannot give you legal advice without thoroughly reviewing your case. Do not rely on this information as establishing an attorney-client relationship. Contact an attorney immediately for assistance. Cordell & Cordell does represent clients in Michigan.


Jill A. Duffy is an Associate Attorney in the Troy, Mich., office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in the state of Michigan. Ms. Duffy received her BA in Psychology and Spanish and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Oakland University. She received her Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law and graduated Magna Cum Laude.  

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