Divorce in blended families can be complex

Divorce in blended families can be complex

by | Jun 20, 2023 | Divorce

In Missouri and throughout the country, thousands of kids grow up in households with step-siblings. It’s quite common nowadays. What is also common is that many second marriages end in divorce. This can create complexities, especially where child custody, alimony and child support are concerned.  

Before you navigate a second divorce in a blended family, it’s important to seek clarification of state laws that may be relevant to your case. Such divorces often intersect another area of law — which is estate planning — because you may need to make changes or updates to your existing plan to reflect your change in marital status or to add or remove beneficiaries in your will.  

Legal and physical custody in a blended family divorce 

If you’re marrying someone who has children and is divorced, the child custody agreement between your spouse and his or her ex might include shared legal custody. This means that you must consult your current spouse’s former spouse when you make decisions on behalf of their children. If you and your spouse are preparing to divorce, and you have children together, you might wish to discuss such issues regarding the possibility that one or both of you might remarry in the future. 

Have you adopted your stepchildren? 

Another issue that may be relevant in a blended family divorce has to do with physical child custody. If you have adopted your stepchildren, then you have the same right to seek physical custody of them as you do for any of your biological children. Even if you have not adopted your stepchildren, there may be tax implications involved following your divorce.  

Such situations can be confusing for children, who might wonder if their stepparent is still a stepparent after a divorce. It’s best to discuss these issues as a family before you finalize your divorce, so that everyone is on the same page regarding what type of relationship you will all share moving forward.  

Write out clear terms of agreement for child custody, child support and more 

To avoid legal complications in a blended family divorce, make sure you create a detailed child custody agreement, as well as terms of agreement for property division, child support, alimony or other relevant topics. The more detailed your agreement is, the less room there is for confusion or dispute. If you’re unable to resolve your differences on such matters, you can seek the court’s intervention to make decisions on your behalf.