How Do You Divorce in a Blended Family?

Divorcing a blended family follows the standard divorce procedure but is more complicated and comes with several challenges. A blended family is where spouses have children from previous relationships or marriages. They may also have children together. It is often not very clear what obligations step-parents have towards their stepchildren. Here are some complications blended families face during divorce.

Child Custody

Child custody and visitation rights may prove very complicated during divorce proceedings. While it is essential to establish the residential parent for each child, their other biological parent’s involvement makes it challenging. Typically, courts give the children to the parent with whom they spend more time. If the second biological parent is out of the picture, the court may consider the step-parent that stepped in for them. 

In the absence of any legal obligations, some step-parents are still emotionally obligated to their stepchildren. In such cases, spouses should agree to maintain relationships with their stepchildren.

Child Support

According to laws governing marriage and marriage dissolution, the non-custodial parent should provide child support. But, just as with custody, things could get complicated with blended families. To determine child support eligibility, courts consider these, among other factors.

  • Are you already paying child support from your previous marriage?
  • Do you consider the child as part of your family?
  • Are you involved in parenting decisions?
  • Do you support the children financially?
  • How involved is the other biological parent?

A step-parent may be liable for child support depending on the answers to the above questions. However, even with these guidelines, the situation is open to interpretation, and judges may have differing opinions. Do not assume a court will decide your case as another, even when the circumstances are similar.

Division of Assets

Equal distribution of property and assets is another challenge for blended families during divorce. Spouses may be dividing assets via an interspousal transfer deed. Blended family spouses may have businesses together and those from other marriages. It takes an expert divorce attorney to handle such cases.

Prenuptial Agreements – A Way out

One of the simplest ways to solve blended family divorce challenges is by signing a prenuptial agreement before marriage. A prenuptial agreement eases the proceedings of a divorce where spouses bring children and property from previous marriages.

What is the Divorce Rate for Blended Families?

According to statistics, 60% of second marriages fail compared to only 40% of first marriages. The divorce rate rises to 70% when spouses bring children from previous marriages. Children in a blended family probably went through a divorce with their biological parents. Breaking a blended family causes more psychological and emotional stress on the children.

How Do I Tell My Stepchildren about Divorce?

Children are always victims of divorce, and talking to them about it is hard. Talking to stepchildren about divorcing their mother or father is also complicated. It could leave the children confused, sad, and angry. However, divorcing your spouse does not necessarily mean ending the relationship with your stepchildren. Here are a few ways you make it easier for them.

  • Assure them you still love them and will always love them.
  • Let them know it is not their fault. Your stepchildren may think it is their fault their parents keep divorcing. Make sure they know it is not about them.
  • Tell them you will always be there for them.

How do Stepchildren Deal with Divorce?

Divorce has a significant emotional and psychological effect on stepchildren. Many children in a blended family have usually gone through a divorce before. The thought of going through the same again may put them in defense mode. They may become angry and resentful towards the one they think caused the divorce.

Some children may blame themselves for the divorce leading to feelings of guilt. Consider mediation and family counseling during divorce proceedings. Finding a good divorce lawyer to take you through the process without unnecessary conflict is equally important.