Beyond the Brady Bunch

POST DATE: 3.14.16
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Statistics show that over 40% of adults in America have at least one step-relative and that approximately one-third of all marriages form step-families, or, blended families. While blended families are quickly becoming the norm in society, they present a unique set of legal challenges.

Unless your new spouse is a widow or widower with children, it is likely that their custody and parenting time is governed by an existing divorce agreement or court order. Familiarize yourself with this document as you may have specific responsibilities regarding the children. For example, there may be restrictions on who may pick up the children from school or transport them to social activities. In addition, if either your new spouse or his or her former spouse petitions for modification of a preexisting child support order, the courts have discretion to include your personal income in the calculation.

If you as a step-parent are seeking to adopt your spouse’s children, it is strongly advised that you consult a private attorney or an adoption agency. Adoption can be a lengthy and convoluted process, and the proper guidance and support will help ensure a positive result for all involved.

In the event you and your stepchildren’s parent divorce, you as a step-parent are permitted to petition the court for visitation. BeyondKeep in mind that a previous custody and parenting time order may be in place for the other biological parent of the children, and the court cannot issue parenting time for you which would affect that parent’s rights. Typically, a step-parent’s visitation would occur during their spouse’s parenting time periods as specified under the court order.

When creating a step-family relationship, having answers to the following questions will help ease the transition:

  1. How will the current court orders affect my routine and children? My income and any child support adjustments? My parenting time?
  2. If adoption is contemplated, what issues should we, as a couple, be considering?

Should you find yourself in need of legal assistance, contact us to discuss how we can help you and your blended family.