Divorcing When You Have Children From Your Current Marriage AND a Previous One—Special Considerations
Modern families increasingly include children from two or more parents. These families face unique complications upon divorce. Suddenly, already complicated custody and support negotiations become even more confusing.
Struggling to make sense of your divorce and the future it will create for each of your children? Keep the following essential considerations in mind:
Custody from a separate relationship typically holds little bearing on current divorce proceedings; a parent could conceivably win a custody battle with one former spouse and lose with the next. Stepparents cannot be granted custody unless they’ve legally adopted their stepchildren, and even then, preference generally goes to the biological parent.
When determining custody, courts may take a close look at parents’ relationship with all children, specifically examining how they interact with kids from previous relationships. Their outside coparenting relationship may also be taken into account, as it could predict whether successful coparenting would occur following the present divorce.
Child Support Obligations
Stepparents are not obligated to pay child support for children from other relationships. The children’s biological parents should fulfill this function. Ultimately, child support payments hinge on income and the number of children the divorcing spouses had together. It is possible and actually quite common for parents to pay different levels of child support for each child.
Children from separate relationships may struggle to retain close bonds if they’re forced apart by divorce. As such, judges often opt for visitation arrangements that allow all children to be together at the same time.
Spouses quickly grow attached to their stepchildren, and for some, the most difficult aspect of divorce is losing those they’ve come to regard as their own flesh and blood. Those who mediate their divorce may elect for stepchildren to be included in visitation, so half-siblings can all participate together.
The more adults related by marriage or through mutual children, the more complex the divorce. However, if all parties agree to serve the best interests of all children involved (and not just their biological kin), they can quickly arrive at satisfactory outcomes. Legal representatives with a nuanced understanding of family law can guide this complicated process efficiently and effectively.