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Understanding Maryland family law may benefit step-parents

Maryland readers may be interested to know that 40 percent of all children in the United States have step-parents. While some blended families manage to live harmoniously together, some are faced with many stumbling blocks related to the rights of step-parents. Knowing your rights as a step-parent under Maryland family law may be beneficial.

Your spouse's children will spend at least some of their time with you -- regardless of whether he or she has sole custody, joint custody or only visitation rights. Not only will you have to deal with discipline, but situations may arise in which you will have to make decisions related to school or medical issues. With your spouse's written consent, you may be allowed to collect a step-child from school, and you may even get access to school records.

A step-parent typically has no legal rights to make medical decisions with relation to a step-child. However, this may be impractical at times because medical emergency issues may arise when your spouse is not around, and you will need consent from your spouse to give you authority to make medical decisions. Another problem that may require the consent of the parent is traveling with step-children. When such travels involve out-of-state trips, the signatures of both biological parents may be necessary. There are, however, always exceptions, and legal requirements may vary according to circumstances.

These are but a few of the pitfalls blended families in Maryland may experience, and consulting with experienced family law attorneys who focus on solving the legal problems associated with step-parenting may be helpful. A lawyer will inform clients of the options that are available to gain legal rights and avoid contention. It may be wise to anticipate and address all eventualities that will enable step-parents and step-children to have amicable relationships.

Source: family.lovetoknow.com, "Overview of Step-Parents' Rights", Amy Newman, Accessed on June 27, 2015

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