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Step Moms Rights in Sole Custody Situations?

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The Golden State of California here....well, supposively Golden anyway-

I am the Step mother of two beautiful children that I love very much (I also have one child of my own)....

For almost 2 years now, my husband has had Sole Legal and Physical Custody of both children...(I would say my husband and I but, since I am a step-parent I do not "count" in the court system)

My question is this: Since there has been Sole custody (due to abuse and drug use by the BM)I would like to know how I can become a gaurdian or adoptive parent, etc.*#!* SOMETHING legally as their parent also? I have parented these children since the youngest was 2 1/2 and the oldest was 5-(they are now 9 and 11 y/o) The BM lost any custody to them for a reason. She has never paid support-in fact continued to receive it for 6 months after custody changed resulting in an over payment which she will not pay, we have a restraining order against her for her conduct-etc-etc.

I am not looking or searching to be recognized as their BM- I believe they really need their BM- and pray that she will clean up her act. My problem is-dealing with the school (which really isn't a problem at all-our relationship is great and I sign anything needed-it's more of a technical thing for me) but with the courts and anything and everything else-it's like I don't exist and have no say. They can investigate anything and everything about me (through the 2 evaluations, which indicated they should be in our care 100%)-rate what is paid (ordered) for CS by BM by including my income-but when it comes to any legal rights I have none!?!?

Is there anything that I can do- through the courts or by my husband to alleviate this situation? I don't want to take away any rights or take over anyone's "Title", I just want to be able to continue to care for my step kids without running into a brick wall when things are needed. With them 100% in our care, I don't see what difference it should make to allow me legal rights to care for them without running into problems.........



I can totally relate to your situation, Mystified1. I am a stepmom of a 7 year old girl and have been since she was 4. Her bm isn't around now, and hardly ever was, and in fact, she just gave me her consent for me to adopt her. I have spent many hours online researching laws (I live in CA also), talking to attorneys, asking countless questions before bm gave up her daughter, on this very subject. I understand where you are coming from.

The only things I turned up in regards to having legal rights to your step children are the following: 1) abandonment by California law, which I believe is where the biological parent must not have any contact with the minor child(ren) for 1 year or more, by phone, physical or other means of communication. 2) termination of parental rights, which will ONLY happen if the bioparent is PROVED IN COURT unfit (and extremely hard to prove, I've heard), and 3) death of the biological parent. I am sure that if I am incorrect someone on here with better legal expertise will help you.

I feel your frustrations of not being able to have any legal rights to your stepchildren when YOU are the one caring for them like a real mom does. It isn't fair, and like MySonsMom said on a previous post regarding stepmoms, being a stepparent is never fair. We just have to do the best we can with the situation.

I hope that you find out more information than I can provide for you. I wish you luck, and hang in there! I know it's tough!


Senior Member
With regard to signing the child up for school, seeking medical assistance etc...like a normal bio parent does....Have your husband write up a form giving you authorization to do such things. Pretty much something stating that he gives your permission to act in ways a parent would. Carry it with you in case you run into any problems.

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