Some families today are not very similar to the conventional families that most people in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, watch on classic television shows and in the movies. Divorce, grandparents assuming parenting roles, blended families and same-sex marriage have influenced the structure of modern American families today.
One of the most common family legal issues is child custody. Family members -- related by blood or not -- are supposed to look after each other. However, in certain legal cases, certain blood-related rules apply and they must be followed.
For instance, a grandmother had taken care of her grandchild because her daughter, the mother of the child, was a drug addict. After years of addiction, the mother suddenly decided to get sober and assume parenting rights and responsibilities for the child. Although the grandmother has the right to claim the child and take primary custody, it is more likely that the court will side with the mother because she is the biological parent. Although the grandmother has rights to adopt the child, the biological parent has the upper hand in the situation.
In another example, a man married a woman who has children from a previous relationship. The children did not know their biological father and they considered their stepfather their parenting father. However, the mother filed for divorce and threatened to deny the stepfather access to her biological children. In this case, legal adoption could have helped. The court does not have the power to supersede biological ties between the parent and the child. Since the man did not adopt them, there is little, if any, legal way to grant visitation or custody rights to him.
Family law issues can be very complicated. However, there are several legal options available to ensure divorce does not also end the relationships that a grandparent or a stepparent has developed with other family members who are children.
Source: The Huffington Post, "The 'F' Word in Family Law," Natalie Gregg, Dec. 3, 2013