Divorce Attorney: Considerations Before Advising Your Clients to Merge Step-Families

Evaluate this scenario: you and your ex share physical custody of your children, both of you have moved on and found new partners, you partners have children of their own, the children are of different ages but within a couple years of each other. How are you going to handle this? How will you merge the families? You have a need to move on from a previous relationship that did not work out as hoped, and you also have must do what is in the best interests of your kids.

One thing that many families are doing is doing a partial merge of the two families. This means that you and your new partner would each keep your own respective residences, but that the two of you would still spend a lot of time together. This is a conservative approach mainly designed to protect your children in the event of a break up. It is important that your children have, at least some degree of stability in their lives. Moreover, many couples enjoy living with what amounts to a bachelor with kids-type of lifestyle, and they find more freedom in maintaining separate residences from their partner.

Just because this arrangement may lack the formality of a marriage, this does not mean that either of the partners is not committed to each other. In fact, it may be possible that you and your partner own property together as co-owners. If you are interested in making absolutely sure that your interests are protected, your local divorce attorney should be able to draft documents indicating the nature of the co-ownership and what happens upon dissolution.

One of the reasons that many couples are blending families is the result of an unpleasant break up. Even with a good divorce attorney, separating a family can be hugely emotional and tough. This is even more the case where there are complicated child custody and financial issues. As a result of fearing a repeat of this experience, it is understandable to not only wish to avoid this for yourself but also for your children. While this is somewhat intuitive, recent reports have backed the idea that stability is more important for children than having a family that it is intact.

Any such scenarios can challenge the definition of what a family is. This does not mean that less-structured family compositions are not acceptable for all involved. If you are against this, however, it is important to speak with your divorce attorney about ways to prevent your children from being brought up in an environment where the other parent is dating various other people without marriage.

One negative to partially blending families is that this is generally more expensive. Naturally, it costs more to have two households rather than one consolidated home. While this is often true, it is important to note that the likelihood of needing a divorce attorney goes up, rather than down, in a second marriage. A costly break up could undo any savings by fully blending families.

The above material is intended for information purposes only. It is not intended as professional legal advice and should not be construed as such.