It is “Official”- a Child May Call their Stepparent Mom or Dad
In many cases conflict arises when divorced parents with children start dating. Specifically, there are often disputes when one parent seeks to dictate when their ex-spouse can introduce their significant other to the children or have the children around the significant other. Some ex-spouses have sought to control the children’s use of a particular name for this person. According to Ocean County Judge Jones in a recent unpublished opinion, B.S. v. T.S., a child of divorced parents may in fact choose to call a stepparent “mom” or “dad” provided that the child is old enough and mature enough to make that decision.
In B.S., the mother of an eight year old boy objected to her son calling his stepmother “mom.” The parents were divorced in 2010 and share joint legal custody of their son, with dad having primary custody. The son developed a strong relationship with his dad’s finance and began calling her “mom.” He simultaneously maintained a strong relationship with his mother and continued to call her “mom.”
In addressing the mother’s objection, Judge Jones made it clear that neither parent can force a child to use a particular name, nor can they forbid the use of a particular name. Instead, if the child is of sufficient age and maturity to make the decision as to what name to utilize, the child’s wishes must be honored and respected.
Separately, the mother in this case also objected to the finance being involved in major parenting decisions. Judge Jones reiterated that all major parenting decisions were to be made by the parents and not by a stepparent. But, the stepparent could assist the parent in helping to raise the child. Judge Jones noted that stepparents could potentially play an important, ongoing and positive role in a child’s upbringing and life.
All of the attorneys at Domers & Bonamassa are well versed and have years of experience addressing family law issues, no matter how complicated. Contact us today at (856) 596-2888 for a private consultation. We appear in the following counties: Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem, Mercer, Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May. Our practice areas include: divorce, custody, parenting time, child support, alimony, domestic violence, college expenses, equitable distribution, name changes, step parent adoptions, paternity issues, child abuse and neglect, prenuptial agreements, mediation and arbitration.
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