location2591 Dallas Pkwy, Suite 300Frisco, TX 75034-8563

Call for a Free Consultation


Divorcing After Adopting a Stepchild: What Are Your Custody Rights?

 Posted on July 28, 2023 in Child Custody

Adoptive parent custodyIf you have adopted a stepchild, you may wonder if you can retain parental rights after divorcing the child’s biological parent. While Texas law considers you a legal parent after adoption, terms and conditions may vary.  Knowing how child custody arrangements work and your responsibilities as an adopted parent can help you make an informed choice during these complex cases.  


Understanding Your Parental Rights as an Adopted Stepparent  

Legally, stepparents do not have any parental rights under the Texas Family Law. However, you acquire the same rights as a biological parent if you legally adopt the stepchild. 

During adoption, the child’s other biological parent (i.e., the non-spouse) terminates or transfers their parental rights to the stepparent. In other words, the stepparent becomes the stepchild's legal parent after receiving consent and completing the adoption process. 

This automatically impacts any decision regarding child conservatorship arrangements made during the dissolution of a marriage with the biological parent. 


Conservatorship and Child Support 

Conservatorship is the legal term for the parental responsibilities and rights of a parent. It is divided into two categories:

Sole managing conservatorship:  In this arrangement, one parent has the authority to make life decisions for the child. This includes schooling choices, healthcare decisions, religious upbringing, etc. The other parent has limited rights and may need a court order to prevent the parent with sole managing conservatorship from making a specific decision.

Joint managing conservatorship:  A joint arrangement allows the biological spouse and the stepparent to share parental responsibilities and make life decisions based on mutual agreements. 

Regardless of the conservatorship arrangement, a stepparent may have to pay child support for an adopted stepchild. In most cases, the parent who earns more or has better finances needs to pay for child maintenance based on the conditions set by the court. 


Asking for Possession and Access 

Also called visitation, possession and access refers to the child custody arrangement that determines the time you spend with your adopted stepchild after a divorce. The standard guidelines provide a specific framework for the visitation. 

Nevertheless, the Texas court is willing to modify the basic possession order to accommodate a child’s unique needs and requirements.  The judge may also consider the bond between the stepchild and the stepparent. These factors help the court to develop a schedule that provides the child with a safe and nurturing environment. 

Like regular custody cases, the stepparent and biological parent have the right to file a motion requesting that the court alter the possession order.  In these cases, a child’s well-being remains the priority, ensuring the modifications do not disrupt their quality of life. 


Contact Collin County Child Custody Lawyers 

Stepparents who adopted their stepchildren are entitled to seek to manage conservatorship, possession, and access after a divorce as long as it is in the child's best interest. The biological parent (your soon-to-be-ex) can counter your claim by pursuing sole managing conservatorship and denying visitation rights. An attorney can help you navigate this complicated process by completing the relevant paperwork and advocating for your rights during the legal process. Dial 972-294-6533 to contact Collin County child custody attorneys from the Law Office of Linda Risinger to schedule a free consultation. 


  1. https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/FA/htm/FA.153.htm

  2. https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/FA/htm/FA.162.htm#162.009

Share this post:
Back to Top