Armstrong Law, P.C.

The role of stepparents in co-parenting

Divorced parents in Massachusetts have a lot to consider and agree upon in terms of child custody and visitation, child support and co-parenting. If one or both parties remarry, you suddenly have additional "parents" who are part of the picture. While some exes are naturally good at fitting the new spouses into the family dynamic, this is more rare than common. While each family needs to make this new arrangement work in its own way, there are some basic considerations that will make this new parenting situation more harmonious.

WebMD recommends that stepparents be supportive of the children spending alone time with both biological parents. This is one part of looking out for the child's best interests. This being said, the stepparent should also try to spend one-on-one time with the children on a regular basis. Stepparents should also not expect their stepchildren to accept them and bond in the same way as biological children. This may come over time, but it should not be rushed. 

According to PsychCentral, the rules should generally be the same in both households. This means that the children, legal parents and stepparents are all on the same page when it comes to what is expected. Stepparents should also be included in communications regarding schedules, vacations and pick-up details, as they may be the ones mainly in charge of these activities.

Another recommendation is to change the term from stepparent to assistant parent. This helps establish that the legal parent is the one who ultimately makes decisions, and the stepparent is there to assist in their enforcement. Being a stepparent is challenging, but it is possible to become a part of the family without too much drama. 

 

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