Step Parent Question


By the way, our custody order says: Plaintiff (father) is to pick child up at after school care on Thursday and plaintiff (father) is to return child to school prior to its starting on Monday.

There is never any mention in the order that anyone other than myself or the ex can pick our daughter up or return her. Can I enforce this if it is in our custody order…


Getting the child out of school early should not be allowed on a regular basis. On a special occasion an exception can be made. If you have primary custody then it could be listed at the school that you be contacted if the child is requesting to leave early.

As far as picking up and dropping off for visitations and spending all the time with the step parent there’s not a lot that can be done. The step parent was not involved in the custody order and could not be included in the paperwork. It’s not unusual for some ex’s to send someone else in their place so that they do not have to have contact and taking the ex back to court because he isn’t picking the child up himself is just a waste of time and money (IMHO).
I probably have a different perspective than most on this because my stepmother did all the communicating and “exchanging” with my mother. My father did not want anything to do with my mother and even left the “raising” of my sister and myself to my stepmother, since he didn’t have a clue what to do with two girls.
If your ex is not spending time with his child then it is his loss. You can not take his visitation away just because he chooses to let the child spend that time with the stepparent. Your daughter has room in her life for you both, the same as she would should you get remarried. That woman is a parent to your child and though it may be difficult for you, it does not diminish how your child feels about you. It sounds like this woman is trying to make sure there is a relationship between them to some extent and that has to be a good thing for your child.
You know how it feels to have your husband’s ex involved in your life, why would you want to do that to someone else?
I suggest that you and this woman discuss some of these situations, if you can, like the leaving school early. See if you can get some communication going between you and her. Maybe she doesn’t know that it bothers you that she’s gotten her out of school.
If she refuses to work with you and communicate with you, then make sure to keep it about the child. Contact the school and make sure that you are called and gets your permission before anyone else picks the child up. Make sure the school sends all information to your address and does not send information home with her on those Fridays.
Make sure that when you meet with her to pick your child up, you only direct comments about the child…“She needs to take this medicine for the next two days, she’s been sick”. Don’t make it personal because unless I’m completely off base, I don’t think they are doing this specifically because it bothers you…


I think you misunderstand what i’m saying a bit. It’s not that it bothers me. However, I am the parent and if the other parent can’t pick my daughter up and doesn’t spend time with her, I don’t feel that a step parent should be offered up as the substitute. Especially when I am more than available to pick my daughter up and do want to spend that time with her. No offense to step parents but I feel that if a parent wants to spend the time and can do it and can make the pick ups then the child should be with the parent not offered up to the stepparent as a substitute for the parent who obviously does not have interest in spending time with the child. I feel parents should have first right to having that relationship with the child not just have an attitude of oh well just let them spend time with the stepparent who bad mouths the mother and grills the child for information about the mother. Is that in the best interest of the child? I think not.


I’m a step-parent and see the other side of this…when my husband’s original custody order was in play, long before we met, the children were very young and he was the only one (besides mom and grand mom) who would pick them up. Keep in mind that grandmom was not included in that custody order or the current one but mom’s job prevents her from taking time off to pick up kids so grandmom helps her out a lot. As the kids got older and I came into their lives things also got more complicated with sports and extra-curricular activities. There were many times that mom, grandmom and dad couldn’t pick up kids - but I could. Custody should be viewed as somewhat dynamic as the needs of the child change. The kids don’t really care who picks them up - just so they know they’re going to be picked up and understand the routine.
Because your ex is remarried the new wife is now part of visitation…you wouldn’t expect her to leave her home while your child and her father spend time together - right? You cannot force your ex to have a relationship with his child. He may be trying to encourage his new wife to have a relationship with the child. Does his job schedule make it difficult for him to pick up the child? Does he want to limit his contact with you?
As far as picking up the child early…what was the reason? Was there a great exhibit at a museum? Were they taking a trip? If your child is in elementary school this was probably not a big deal. Does the child have a lot of lates and unexcused absences? if yes, then taking her out of school should be questioned. Do Dad and stepmom get her to school and pick her up on time?
Why not be thankful that your child has another adult figure in her life that wants to be supportive?


I agree with Mal…I am a stepparent also and on occasions I have to pick up my step son from his mother because of his work schedule. The judge in our case said that any responsible adults be able to pick up the child when the father is unable to. I don’t know if the ex has a problem with it…I know she don’t like me…but she shouldn’t take it out on the child.


Sorry I disagree with you. Why should a step parent (whose only been in our child’s life for a couple of years) get visitation by default when the father is totally uninterested. But there is a interested and involved mother in the picture. I never speak negatively about my child’s father or the stepmother And I don’t think anyone who bad mouths me to my child without cause is deserving of the privilege of visitation with her…

If the situation with the stepmother were different and she tried to work and communicate with me to my child’s best interest and did not speak negatively of me to my child I could understand all of your point. But that is not the case here.


You cannot take away your ex-husband’s visitation because you don’t like how he manages his time with his child. If you go back to court and try and modify custody what would you achieve and how would you make a case for yourself? How much money would you be spending to send a message to your ex?
I would suggest that you relax about this and just realize that each household is different and you cannot control how your husband spends or doesn’t spend his time with his child. I would also stop the speculation about comments that are made about you in that home. It is best to just ignore this and your child will do the same. If you ask your child what step-parent/dad is saying or they feel they have to report to you then it just creates an unhealthy situation.
You have a couple of choices:
-ignore this and focus on your child and your life with them.
-address this with your ex - though chances are this will only make a bad situation worse
-try and be the bigger person and meet w/ this step parent - “in the best interest of the child”…some people actually work much better with the step than with their ex. Not in our case though!
Realize that you are wasting a lot of energy and emotion on a situation. Why make yourself sick and angry about this? You will read on this forum so many situations that are so much worse than what you are going through. Look at the big picture. Your child is not in jeopardy. As long as they are happy and healthy, move on. Don’t worry about them making negative comments about you…“sticks and stones…”


I am sorry that you do not see this side of it. If you remarry maybe that will change when you realize that your child’s stepfather needs to have a separate relationship with the child. As a stepparent I can tell you that it’s not easy. I do not bad mouth thier mother though I have no respect for her whatsoever. I have never said anything about her to them except that I’m sure that she loves them and wants to protect them.
Over the last several years it’s become evident that even if their father were not so involved with them, it would be important for me to have a relationship with them myself. Otherwise, they believe that I am only their for thier father. Their mother, I’m sure, would take all of his custodial time if allowed just to make sure that I did not spend time with them alone. My stepsons often spend their mother’s entire weekend with a friend or other family member. It’s NOT our time and they have the right to spend time with other family members. Visiting other family members must be done on that parent’s custodial time and in most cases, that includes stepparents.

As I said previously, your child has room in her life for both of you. You have two options: One, Let it go. Don’t sweat this little stuff because if your stressing so much over this then when the big stuff comes up, you’re really going to have a problem. OR…
two, Take your ex back to court to have his visitations taken away completely. That is the only way that you can keep your child away from a stepparent. The attorney will likely not take the case, and you will spend a lot of time and money for nothing. But if you can get together a case for mental or physical abuse, or neglect, you may have a chance of having primary custody with your ex having no visitation or supervised visitation. But I should warn you that you will need to have records that this abuse or neglect has been ongoing…
Good Luck and I do hope you find peace of mind.


Do you have a custody order that prevents him from allowing the child to spend time with a third party?

P.S. Please feel free to bring up this or any other topic on our live call-in show every Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. EST. Visit for details

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Sorry, but I just can’t help myself and must chime in.

First, the stepmother should not be listed on the pickup list at school or daycare - simple as that. No one should be taking your daughter out of school early without your written permission. You should go straight to the school and take care of that.

Plsadvise, it seems you and I have a lot in common. My ex has been relatively unconcerned with our daughters since our separation six years ago. He has no set visitation (that is the way he wanted it) and has called me to schedule visits when he felt like it. Sometimes going as long as three months without seeing them and when he did, it was for 4-5 hours and then nothing for several weeks.

He remarried last year and I have had nothing but harassment ever since. Suddenly I was the malicious bitch (his new wife’s words) that was keeping him from his daughters and my daughter’s, who were always happy to see their dad when they did visit before, were suddenly refusing to go visit with their father at all. We never really had any problems, before his re-marriage, because he did not mess with me and I did not mess with him.

As for the step-parent involvment. First, my parents were married before and both had sons. They met and had me. My oldest brother (father’s son) was three when my mother came and my second brother (mother’s son) was 6 months. The biological mother did not have anything to do with my oldest brother until she kidnapped him when he was five. My father spent a year trying to find him. She did return him and was not heard from again. My second brother’s father never even saw him. My mother and he separated while she was pregnant. My father later adopted my second brother. We all knew the history, but mom was mom and dad was dad. The other parents were not involved.

Second, I am a child of divorce and have had two step-mothers. I also have also had a step-father, until my mother and step-father died in an accident.

Third, I am step-mother. When I married my ex-husband, he came with a six year old daughter.

Fourth, I now I children who have a new step-mother.

Fifth, I am now remarried and my husband is a very good step-father. He is more of a father to my girls than their biological father is

So, I think I have a well-rounded view on step-parenting.

I also have a real problem with my children going to their father’s house and his not even being there to spend time with them. I completely agree that children should not be visiting with the other parent if they are not going to be available. These are my children. I never wanted to be divorced. I never wanted them to have two households, but unfortunately, it is what it is. I don’t see my children as a burden that I need to somtimes take a break from. Childhoold is all to short and I want to be there for every bit of it. I understand that they need visitation with their father too, but I should not have to give up my time with them so that they can visit with everyone else.

I also have a very strong opinion about the involvement of step-parents with their step-children. I know there are very good step-parents out there who love their step-children. I am one of them. Step-parents, though, are not parents of these children and should not behave as though they are, especially when the biological parent is in the picture and most especially not when the biological parent is the primary caregive of the children.

I think of my role with my step-daughter as more of a god-parent or really close aunt. I was definitely an adult figure, not friend when my step-daughter was young, but she had both a mother and father and it was not my place to interfere. Many times I did not agree with how either of her parents treated her. I could tell my husband how I felt about a situation, but it wasn’t my decision in the end.

Many times my step-daughter came to visit and spent her time with me, rather than her father. I used to pick her up and drop her off for visitation, because her father was too disinterested. I wouldn’t make that mistake again. My step-daughter cared for me, but she wanted desperately to be with her father. At 21, she has some emotional issues from her desperate need to be loved and accepted by her father. Last year, she thanked me. She said she would not have any relationship at all with her father if it were not for me. In return, I apologized. I don’t think I did her any favors. I think she may have been better off if she was able to move on with her life years ago.

I have read many blogs on this forum and am thankful for it, but stepmother, you really need to back off. You are far too involved with your step-children and have over-stepped your bounds (IMHO). And you wonder why you have a difficult relationship with the mother.

I have been down-right pissed off over the past year. My ex’s new wife has e-mailed to tell me I am a malicious bitch who is just jealous of her. He is a good father and always pays his child support and I just want to keep the girls from him. (BTW, he owes me tons in child support). She has asked my daughters to call her mom. The children that I conceived, carried, birthed, nursed and cared for on my own for 8 and 1/2 years by myself.

The step-mother has intercepted my e-mail communication with my ex and responded pretending to be him (using words that he doesn’t even know the meaning to, let alone know how to spell) thinking I can’t tell the difference.

She has e-mailed me (pretending to be him) stating I am poisoning my children with medication for ADD. She thinks ADD can be controlled by diet. Until you become a medical doctor honey, I don’t want to hear your opinion.

She has e-mailed me demanding that I lower child support, allow him to claim the girls on his taxes, clear any “alleged” child support arrears, sign papers for their father to get passports for the girls that he will hold, give all doctor contact information, all teacher contact information, all daycare contact information, list his address as a secondary address for my girls, etc.

He has not ever been to the girls daycare or school and they are almost nine-year-old now. He has not carried insurance as ordered, paid half of the uninsured medical expenses as ordered, taken them to a doctor or dentist. He has never helped me when they are sick. I have had friends that have done more to help me with the girls when I needed than he has and it isn’t because I didn’t ask.

I know this turned out to be a bit of rant, but I do not apologize for it. Many step-parents out there need to mind their place. The biological parent does not like the interference and the children don’t like it either. It just creates more problems for everyone.


I think it is important to remember that this is a forum where people share their experiences and opinions as well as look for legal advice from lawyers. Everyone’s situation is different.


adding on for robinp…you certainly have had and do have a lot going on in your life. I do however think it is in your daughters’ best interest to give dad a chance, whether he is doing this on his own or with the encouragement of new wife/step mom. I made a lot of mistakes early on in my dealings w/ the ex-wife, but everything I did was in the best interest of the kids and trying to enable/facilitate my husband’s relationship with them. I agree that legal issues like being owed child support and custody/visitation should be between the parents but the reality of the situation is that it affects the steps as well so it is understandable that all parties need to know what is going on.


Thanks Robinp for your support. I knew I couldn’t be the only parent that felt this way…

I will also say this that I did not mention earlier. When I was married to the ex I was in the same situation. Meaning at that time I was the step parent to his two older children. During that time he showed no interest in spending time with those children (like he treats our child now). As the step parent and now as the parent, I still feel the same way…the parents should have first right to that time with their children. If one parent does not want it, give the parent who does the opportunity. Step parents should stay out of it…

And I will say this you can give someone all the chances in the world to be a parent but that is not going to change the fact if they just don’t want to or are simply so selfish they don’t care. And honestly I don’t feel that spending time with a parent like that is in my child’s best interest…

Everyone has their own situation and perspective, right or wrong, that’s mine!


I think Helena stated my original response a little more to the point. If you do not currently have a custody order that prevents the other parent from having the child around a stepparent, and that step parent is not abusing or neglecting that child, you can not refuse to allow visitations. Legally, you can not deny the other parent visitations because they show little interest in being a parent. The parent is exercising his/her visitations, regardless of how little of the biological parent’s time is actually spent with the child.

In order to deny his visitations so that the stepparent can not spend time with the child, you will need to have the courts remove his visitations completely or modify the court order so that the stepmother is not allow to be present during visitations. This will require you showing proof that the stepmother is being abusive or neglectful to the child. It does not matter to the courts that she’s talking about you to the child or being disrespectful towards you, though in my opinion it should. It does not matter to the courts that she is not communicating or working with you…that is between you and the child’s father. If the child’s father is staying out of the interaction between you and the new wife, the courts will not care unless the child is in danger.

Yes, being removed early from school should not occur without your permission as primary custodial parent. As long as it’s not done too frequently for the school system to oppose it, sadly, the courts would probably only slap him on the wrist for not letting you know in advance.
I know that you are trying to do the very best for your child but you are asking for a simple answer to a complicated question. Yes, there is something you can do about your situation but no it’s not something that is likely to make a difference or change the arrangement as it is now. You will be spending a lot of time, effort, and money for nothing. You should put that energy into your own life and your child’s.
But again that last part is only my opinion…what do I know…


Stepmother, I think you missed plsadvise’s point. She doesn’t want to stop visitation or to remove the step-parent during visitation. She simply wants her ex to be present for visitation. If he is not present, then her daughter should be at home where she belongs. Plsadvise should not have to give her time with her daughter to the step-parent.

Mal, I saw your response about giving dad a chance whether it be on his own or through encouragement from the new wife. I understand your reason for stating this and I do believe that people make mistakes, realize it and try to make amends, but not everyone is like that. Having been through this before with him and his first daughter, I knew exactly what would happen. I knew that if the new wife wasn’t there, he wouldn’t bother with the girls. You see, before about a year ago, my girls were glad to see their dad when they did, but didn’t ask about him when they didn’t. They had no idea that other kids see their dads every other weekend.

For months, he has called them everyday - so he could have documentation to make his motion to modify custody better - again at the prompting of the new wife. Now they have spent a little more time with him and they have started making statements about missing him.

A month ago, my ex called and said he was leaving the new wife and he would need my help - you know drop child support, arrears and don’t go after him for the unpaid medical. Not something I intend to do because I don’t steal from my daughters. Oh, and since he will be on his own again, he won’t have the funds to meet me half-way for visitation.

My ex would not drive 1.1 miles from his parents house to mine. He would not drive 2.5 miles from his apartment to my home. He would not drive 15 miles from his home to my new home. There is no way he is going to drive 250 miles to meet me without the prompting of the new wife.

So, my girls will experience the rejection of their father, yet again, but this time they are old enough to really know about it. How many times she he be given a chance to tear their hearts out? At 43, shouldn’t you know how to be a man and a decent father?


EDIT: She may not want to stop visitation but she wants to dictate to him and the stepmother what happens and how the visitation time is spent. Right or wrong, this is not going to happen :EDIT

If the ex is not present during visitation and she does not want the child spending time with the stepparent, her ONLY option is to attempt to stop visitation or remove the stepparent’s right to be present in the home while visitation is taking place.

If the stepparent is the only one with any interaction with the child then there would be no visitations at all if the order is changed so that the ex must be there or no visitation takes place. So again, her ONLY option is to attempt to stop visitations or change the order so that the ex must be present during the visitations.

If he’s not currently doing this, then I’m sure taking him back to court and having the order changed is going to force him to be present while the child is there. You can not MAKE someone be a parent. She can not force her ex to be present. She can NOT deny his visitations because he is not the one spending time with the child regardless of her having primary custody. She is not giving HER time to the stepparent, the father is giving HIS time to the stepparent. That’s how the courts would see this.

As long as the child is being cared for and is not being abused the courts are not going to see this as a problem and they will not change the order.
pladvise asked “Can I do anything about this?” in her original post. I believe that I answered this correctly that legally she has only one option. EDIT: The option is not one that would likely get the results that she is looking for. I believe that it would cause a lot more problems than it would correct, and that’s if it was even heard in court :EDIT


After reading this earlier post from stepmother…I have never spoken to my husband’s ex. You are correct in that there is no need. My husband discusses everything with me and there may come a day when I must speak to her but until then there’s just no reason. It would be nice occasionally for my husband to not have to do all the running, picking the kids up from her and things like that but we had some very nasty incidents at the beginning, so it is best for all that I am not involved in that part of it.

I am the primary custodial parent. My ex is remarried. Every since his new wife has been in his life she has picked our daughter up and dropped her off for visitations against my objections. She involves her self in visitation changes without my consent. She has picked our daughter up early at school (like 12:00) without my consent. Also, when my daughter goes to her dad’s for visitation it seems she is spending the majority of her time with the stepmother not her father. This infuriates me because I feel that if the ex can’t pick our daughter up himself and spend time with her that I want the time with her, and can pick her up and have the time to spend with her and feel she should be with a parent that wants to spend quality time with her. Can I do anything about this?