Blended families can be a beautiful thing for both parents and children. It’s inspiring to know we all have the chance to find love again even after a challenging and painful divorce. Children can also benefit greatly from healthy relationships with stepparents. Unfortunately, blended families may face additional challenges during and after divorce. Issues pertaining to the children are most prevalent, and parents’ bitter feelings about the divorce often come into play.
Navigating Shared Custody
We all move on from a divorce at a different pace. Sometimes one parent will already have gotten serious with a new partner before their divorce is even finalized. Coming from a divorce attorney with decades of experience – it is not uncommon. This can affect the custody arrangement a mother requests, especially if the new partner gets in her ear about how the child’s biological father doesn’t deserve to have shared custody of the child. Your high conflict divorce lawyer will be the first to tell you that child custody often becomes more about punishing an ex than caring for the child’s best interests.
Custody can also be challenging for blended families where the parents are going through a divorce. Stepdads often build strong bonds with their stepchildren; they may live under the same roof, share similar interests, and serve as a father figure. Unfortunately, many stepfathers are unable to see their stepchildren after the divorce. You likely will not be granted legal visitation with the child, with only a few exceptions. However, you may be able to work out an informal visitation agreement with your ex assuming you both genuinely care about the child’s best interests.
If you are currently a married stepparent and would like added security in the event of a future divorce, you may be able to request a stepparent adoption. This option is only available when the biological father of the child is absent or is willing to terminate his parental rights.
Child Support Concerns
Many divorcing men wonder whether their child support payments can stop if their ex-wife remarries or cohabitates with a new partner. While this is possible in the case of spousal maintenance, this rule doesn’t apply to child support. Your monthly payment is meant to cover your child’s basic necessities. Just because your co-parent becomes a blended family with another man, that doesn’t mean the court views him as financially responsible for your child.
Another common question child support lawyers for men hear often is whether a father can decrease his child support obligation when he remarries and becomes a blended family. The court will not lower your obligation just because you have other children to support, whether they are stepchildren or biological children from your second marriage. However, if child support has become a burden due to a job loss, or if your ex’s income has increased, we may be able to request that your support obligation is decreased.
Terminating Parental Rights
We commonly hear about a woman marrying a new man after having a child with her first partner. Fathers who were unmarried at the time of the child’s birth are often rightfully concerned that the mother of their child will try to take away their rights to be involved in the child’s life. This becomes even more of a concern in the previously mentioned situation where a new man is in the mother’s life and wants to help parent her child.
Even if the mother of your child has obtained sole custody and has attempted to keep your child away from you, she should not be able to terminate your parental rights. The court generally tries to avoid terminating rights as much as possible because judges believe each child should have the benefit of a legal father.
No matter what your co-parent and her new husband have threatened, it’s important that you know how to show up in court and fight for your rights as a father. Speak to a family lawyer for men at the first sign of trouble so you can begin to prepare for the court hearing.
Any concerns you have about family law in regard to your ex’s or your blended family can be addressed by speaking with a family law attorney for men. At The Micklin Law Group, we focus on men’s and fathers’ rights during divorce and in family law cases.
Contact our team with your questions and concerns. We’re happy to help you resolve your family law matter.