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Step Families – How to Navigate These Waters Successfully

Getting through a divorce is generally the hardest part of a changing family. If you aren’t married to the other parent of your child, then a paternity/custody case in family court can feel the same way. Once the major decisions are made and financial arrangements are in place then there is a great feeling of relief. From that point on there should be some consistency as your children navigate their relationships with a split family. Something that will always seem to blindside you, though, is the development of step families.

Step families can be awkward to handle because they will have more of an impact on your children than they do on the parents. The world of step families can always remain difficult or it can actually be a cordial and even pleasant experience. Follow these tips to create a positive life with a step family.

Accept It

The first step to having a positive environment with step families is to accept that it is simply a fact of life. Both you and the other parent deserve to create family environments that meet your needs. This means that you are both moving on after the custody arrangements are finalized. You need to accept that the two of you may be moving on at different speeds. This means that your co-parent may start adding family members to your child’s life before you do and that’s okay.

Stay On Track

You went to court and came up with a formal custody plan for a reason. In most states, you are free to change and alter the arrangement on your own without going back to court. If you ever disagree about a change then the written plan will serve as the final decision. When it comes to financial arrangements like child support and alimony there is no room for negotiation once the papers are signed. Keeping up with your payments will keep the waters clear and the conflict at a minimum. If you need to then you should speak with an alimony lawyer or consult this comprehensive guide from The Peck Law Firm after your divorce to make sure you understand how financial payments are enforced.

Be Careful

This can be one of the most obvious and most restrictive. After a divorce or custody case, you need to be careful of who you invite into your life. Everyone your child is exposed to is also open to investigation by the other parent. You wouldn’t want the other parent to have people of questionable morals around your child. That means you should make certain you are not doing that exact thing. Run background checks and ask important questions early on. You will be grateful you did if anything comes into question later.

Remember that step families are a constantly changing families. This can be stressful when you suddenly learn about a big change with your co-parent that impacts your child. Follow these key tips and a good amount of that tension will be alleviated right away.

Tim Esterdahl

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