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Stepparents: How to ease the transition

Figuring out how to integrate the idea of stepparents into your existing custody arrangement can be more difficult than you might imagine, especially if it is the noncustodial parent who is remarrying. Because noncustodial parents often have more limited time with their children due to visitation schedules, the children may be more likely to see a stepparent as a threat to their time with that parent. It can also pose a challenge for the stepparent attempting to bond with their stepchildren during visits that happen only every other weekend.

While it may not be high on your want-to-do list, keeping your ex in the loop when a relationship gets serious and heads into potential stepparent territory is an important aspect of keeping things running smoothly. While you may never get your ex’s support, he or she will probably be more likely to at least stay neutral on the subject if you’ve given him or her the courtesy of a heads up instead of blindsiding him or her with the kids coming back from a visitation telling your ex you’ve gotten or are getting remarried.

Once the new partner is living under the same roof as you and the kids, it’s important to give everyone time to adapt to the change in circumstances. Even if your children have had nothing but positive experience with the new stepparent, it can still be a difficult idea for them to process. Keeping the lines of communication open and all adults in the situation presenting as united of a front as possible is helpful.

In some situations, ex-spouses also have a difficult time accepting this change and can vent their anger and frustrations by refusing to follow the terms of a visitation agreement or becoming hostile during custody changes. If this happens, a family law attorney can help you decide what to do.

Source: KidsHealth, “Becoming a Stepparent,” accessed Oct. 09, 2015

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