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  1. #1
    kgh1977 is offline Member
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    What are Step Parent rights in WA

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? WA

    I am a mom that has been having issue after issue with the step mother of my daughters. Im sure you can see by prior posts how frustrated I am with her and the situation.

    I have been looking online and everywhere I can think of to find out exactly what the rights of step-parents are in Washington State and have come up with nothing substantial.

    Could you please either point me in the right direction or let me know legally what rights they have if any??

    Thank you all for your great advice.
  2. #2
    LdiJ is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by kgh1977 View Post
    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? WA

    I am a mom that has been having issue after issue with the step mother of my daughters. Im sure you can see by prior posts how frustrated I am with her and the situation.

    I have been looking online and everywhere I can think of to find out exactly what the rights of step-parents are in Washington State and have come up with nothing substantial.

    Could you please either point me in the right direction or let me know legally what rights they have if any??

    Thank you all for your great advice.
    You are not finding anything about stepparents rights, because they do not have any. The parent has some limited right to delegate some of their parenting rights to their spouse. That's basically it.
  3. #3
    kgh1977 is offline Member
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    Could you be more specific on what types of parental rights a parent can give to a step parent??? I want to know what Im talking about when I go to court or make statements. I want to make sure that I am right about things before I speak.

    Thank you
  4. #4
    TinkerBelleLuvr is offline Senior Member
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    FERPA is a Federal law that gives parents or eligible students the right to have access to a student's education records, the right to seek to have the records amended, and the right to have some control over the disclosure of information from the records. The term "education records" is defined as those records that contain information directly related to a student and which are maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution. 34 CFR 99.3 "Education records."

    The term "parent" is defined as including natural parents, a guardian, or an individual acting as a parent in the absence of a parent or a guardian. 34 CFR 99.3 "Parent." The Department has determined that a parent is absent if he or she is not present in the day-to-day home environment of the child. Accordingly, a stepparent has rights under FERPA where the stepparent is present on a day-to-day basis with the natural parent and child and the other parent is absent from that home. In such cases, stepparents have the same rights under FERPA as do natural parents. Conversely, a stepparent who is not present on a day-to-day basis in the home of the child does not have rights under FERPA with respect to such child's education records.
    http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/library/hastings082004.html
  5. #5
    proud_parent is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by kgh1977 View Post
    Could you be more specific on what types of parental rights a parent can give to a step parent??? I want to know what Im talking about when I go to court or make statements. I want to make sure that I am right about things before I speak.
    If Dad signs a Power of Attorney, he can appoint Stepmom as his attorney-in-fact to make certain education and health care decisions for the children on his behalf.

    Dad also can grant Stepmom the authority to discipline the children in whatever manner he deems appropriate (including corporal punishment), so long as the discipline does not rise to the level of abuse or neglect AND so long as there is no clause in your orders that precludes third parties from administering such discipline.

    Finally, you noted in a previous thread that you are the NCP, so Stepmom would indeed have rights under FERPA as Ginny already posted.


    In general, those are the limits to a stepparent's rights in any state, UNLESS a court grants him or her other specific rights. It is rare that a court would do so.


    That said...
    You should be aware that Washington is one of those tricky states with a "de facto parentage" doctrine which permits non-biological "parents" to establish parental rights and to seek custody or residential time on their own behalf. The major case (2005) that established this doctrine involved a lesbian couple who separated, but it could be argued to apply to stepparents as well. I don't know whether there has been a case in which a stepparent who is still married to one of the legal parents has asserted de facto parentage.

    "...the legislature's omission of any language addressing the legal rights of parties to familial relationships such as the one presented here does not imply the complete denial of remedy but rather leaves the matter to be resolved by common law. In re Parentage of L.B., 121 Wn. App. at 475-76. Then, relying on the persuasive authority of other state courts that have recognized the common law rights of de facto parents, the court held that a common law claim of de facto or psychological parentage exists in Washington separate and distinct from the parameters of the UPA* and that such a claim is not an unconstitutional infringement on the parental rights of fit biological parents. Id. at 485. The Court of Appeals held that a de facto parent may prove the existence of a parent-child relationship by presenting evidence sufficient to prove:

    (1) the natural or legal parent consented to and fostered the parent-like relationship;
    (2) the petitioner and the child lived together in the same household;
    (3) the petitioner assumed obligations of parenthood without expectation of financial compensation; and
    (4) the petitioner has been in a parental role for a length of time sufficient to have established with the child a bonded, dependent relationship parental in nature."

    *Uniform Parentage Act, RCW 26.26
    [url=http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/jfc/amicus_project/docs/155wn2d0679.htm]155 Wn.2d 679, In re Parentage of L.B.[/url]

    If your children's stepmother is overstepping so much as you report, it could be that she and Dad have read about this doctrine somewhere and have latched on to this idea.

    Should you be worried that Stepmom has something like this up her sleeve? Honestly, I doubt it. There are a great many overstepping steps out there, and chances are this one is garden variety. I just wanted to bring this up so that you can prepare yourself to counter any argument that Dad and Stepmom might throw at you.
  6. #6
    LdiJ is offline Senior Member
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    I would like to add that even though dad can give a POA to stepmom, or give her permission to discipline the child etc., a judge can also order dad to NOT allow his wife to make any of those kinds of decisions, and often will, if the stepparent is overstepping.

    And this stepmom is overstepping, big time, particularly with that phone call.

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