Blog

Blended Family? Think about this

More than half of the families in the United States were formed by remarriages or re-coupling of relationships. Based on current statistics, half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce.  And, the average length of a marriage is seven years. With the ending of marriages, the subsequent remarriages or the forming of new relationships after divorce — particularly those remarriages or relationships that integrate children into the new relationship — create certain dynamics that are different from those of prior relationships.

Integrating the Children

First, with a blended family, it is critical to support the children, especially emotionally. It is not unusual for a child to pine for the original family unit.  A child may struggle as he or she adapts to a new stepparent, new step-sibling(s), new neighborhood, and/or new school. It can be overwhelming for a child to digest and process this transition into a new family unit, and if not done with the best interests of the child in mind, can often lead to emotional outbursts, or internal psychological turmoil, detrimental to the health and welfare of a child.

Therapeutic Support

The key to a successful transition is ensuring that the family has the therapeutic support it needs. Working with a family therapist can be the key ingredient to successful blending. This process can work if the family, as a unit, remains committed and engaged in the process, without trivializing any member’s needs or expectations.

Obtaining therapeutic support even before remarriage or moving in with a significant other is ideal, as it allows ample time to identify and address issues. The need for therapeutic support may continue long-term, however, as complicated issues with the role of the stepparent and step-family emerge.

Discipline Issues

Some children respond well and are receptive to active, involved stepparents.  Some may even become comfortable with discipline from a stepparent. Others may not adapt easily when a stepparent takes the role of disciplinarian.  The stepparent must respect the boundaries of a child’s comfort zone. In that case, a stepparent may need to step back and learn how to be a friendly, supportive adult in the stepchild’s life. The focus should be on trying to establish a bond to the stepchild without trying to replace a biological parent. Children often do not want or need replacements, but rather a unified support system with strength in numbers. Children tend to thrive when they have loving, connected adults to support them. Therefore, surrounding a child with meaningful adult relationships such as these will have a positive effect on a child’s happiness.

The Outcome

The recipe for a successfully blended family rests on a generous helping of love, complemented with a dash of patience, a handful of tolerance, and a sprinkle of luck, and topped with an abundance of selflessness. Above all, it is paramount that the adults involved put the child’s needs before their own. In time, a happy, loving, balanced family should be perfected.

Please contact me at jlawrence@lawlawfirm.com if you have questions about this post or any other family law matter.

Subscribe to Our Blog

SHARE THIS POST:

Related Posts

Blog
Legislative Impact on Family Law – A Sneak Peek

I knew I wanted to be a lawyer for as long as I can remember. My father is a retired juvenile detective from New Jersey.  I developed my love for the law through him. Law school proved challenging, requiring round-the-clock studying, but this diligence allowed me to graduate second in my class. Throughout law school and…

Read More
Blog
A Modern Family – Third Parties Raising Children

The definitions of  “parenthood” and “family” continue to evolve. Today, it is not uncommon for a child to have a parent-child relationship with someone other than the biological parents. As the needs of children change, and as society changes, so does the law surrounding custody and parenting time. Therefore, a third party who lives in…

Read More
Blog
Special Needs Child Support in New Jersey

I often hear attorneys say calculating child support is the easiest part of their job. In New Jersey, we have Child Support Guidelines.  As such, the New Jersey guidelines will be presumably accepted by both the parties and the Court. Child support is based on the parties’ respective combined available net income.  The support is…

Read More
Blog
The Role of a Parent Coordinator in Custody Issues

Custody and parenting time issues are highly contentious and hotly contested in many New Jersey divorce cases.  Because of this, a Parent Coordinator can serve divorcing parties well by assisting them in trying to resolve their issues. Often times when either the parties agree or the Court enters an Order regarding same, a Parent Coordinator…

Read More
Blog
Prolonged Separation = Divorce Complications

The New Jersey Appellate Division case of Milcarsky v. Milcarsky, confirmed the trial court’s decisions about thorny issues resulting from prolonged separation. In this case, the parties separated after nine years of marriage.  However, neither filed for divorce until 2015, 11 years later. The court treated this marriage as one of 20 years’ duration. The…

Read More
Blog
What the heck is a QDRO?

Retirement accounts are often a divorcing couple’s largest asset – the home being another.  A QDRO must be entered by the court to divide retirement assets during a divorce in New Jersey. What does QDRO stand for? Unless you are going through, or have gone through a divorce, you have probably never heard of a…

Read More
Call Us