Child Custody, Visitation & Relocation

Child Custody-A Child Can Call His Stepparent Mom, Dad Or By His First Name

The family law, child custody case of B.S. v. T.S., No. 20-2-8647, Chancery Div. Family Part (Ocean City) arose out of defendant-mother’s objections to her 8-year-old son’s calling his stepmother “Mom” and plaintiff-father’s desire to consult with the stepmother before reaching agreement with defendant-mother on significant issues involving the child. The court found that when two parents divorce and one remarries, a child may wish to call a stepparent either by the first name, or by “Mom” or “Dad”, or a derivative of these words; and where, as here, the child was of sufficient age and maturity to distinguish between his biological parent and stepparent, the choice of which way to address the stepparent belonged to the child, and not to either parent; neither parent could force the child to either call a stepparent “Mom” or “Dad” against the child’s will or forbid the child from doing so. Further, when, as here, two divorced and active parents shared joint legal custody of a child, all major parenting decisions were to be made by the parents, and not by a stepparent, but the stepparent could assist the parent with whom he or she was partnered in helping raise the child, and in such capacity could potentially play an important, ongoing and positive role in a child’s upbringing and life.

Reference: Case & Analysis, New Jersey Law Journal, 221 N.J.L.J. 1990 (December 21, 2015)

Filed Under: Family Law; Child Custody; Stepparent

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