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Complicated Issues with Step-Parents

After a divorce, it’s natural for the individuals to begin moving forward with life.  As this happens, other relationships can eventually form and may lead to a new marriage.  The situation can be exciting, but realize there can also be complicated issues with step-parents.

If both individual enter this new relationship, each having children of their own, it can be especially complicated.  It may seem normal to attempt to alter parenting schedules so that the children from the previous marriages can begin spending time together as a new “family.”  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

However, the other spouse from the previous marriage may have difficulty accepting your decision to attempt to blend your new family.  You may also encounter disagreements if the step-parent attempts to discipline or control the step-child or children.

As an attorney, I prefer that the dealings with the previous spouse or issues related to the previous marriage be dealt with directly by my client, not the step-parent.  It’s not that the new arrangement is a problem, but it can, and usually will, complicate matters.

I’ve seen rock star step-parents form strong health bonds with step-children, and even the former spouse.  It can work.  It takes work.  Nonetheless, not everyone in the situation may be as excited about the new relationship (including the ex-spouses and even the children).

There are complicated issues with step-parents.  At times, it can be very messy.  Statistics show that subsequent marriages also tend to be more fragile.  This is for a variety of reasons.  Should the new marriage also end in divorce, step-parent issues (along with emotional issues related to the relationships) can be difficult to navigate.

Having seen many families attempt to restart, I would caution you to communicate with your new spouse and set the proper boundaries (as well as expectations).  I know you’d like to see things return to “normal,” but remember every person has their own sense of what normal really is.  There will be challenges for you as a parent, for the step-parent, and for the children involved.  It can and does work, but go into it with your eyes wide open.  Most importantly, be prepared to take a deep breath when you need to take one.