I have raised my stepdaughter since she was 5 years old. I have supported her financially for the last 10 years as her biological father has been out of the picture her entire life.
Unfortunately, my wife has started drinking heavily and I don’t think our marriage is salvageable. However, my stepdaughter has asked that I not divorce her because she doesn’t want to go live with a dad she doesn’t even know.
Do I have a chance at gaining temporary or any form of custody? As a minor, does my stepdaughter have any say in the matter?
I do not practice law in your state. Therefore, I cannot inform you as to the specific laws of that state and can only provide you with general tips on divorce and family law.
As you are likely already aware, the rights of a biological parent tend to trump those of a stepparent. However, in extreme circumstances where there is possible endangerment to the child or where the child is of an age and mental capacity to speak on his or her own behalf, courts will sometimes carve out an exception to this rule.
It will likely be necessary for you to either have an attorney known as a guardian ad litem or child representative appointed to be your stepdaughter’s attorney, and you will also want to request a Motion for In Camera Interview so that the court will consider speaking to your stepdaughter directly about her wishes in the context of a divorce proceeding.
Although what you are requesting is not impossible, I do note that it would certainly be an exceptional situation and require competent legal counsel to successfully execute.