When you get married, your world becomes your spouse’s world, and their world becomes your world. The ins and outs of your previous lives are exposed for one another, and you, as a newly married spouse, are asked to embrace these changes and the previous aspects of your new partner’s life.
For many adults who have gone through a previous divorce and have since remarried, that includes children. Your new spouse is asked to embrace them as their own and be the loving stepparent that the children need during this time of change and transition.
Changes in your new spouse’s life
For you, as their parent, you may not fully understand the drastic change occurring in your new spouse’s life, but it is important to remember that your new spouse was not a part of the birth of your children. They may hold an apprehensive attitude toward getting involved in decisions regarding your children.
In addition, you have to factor in your co-parent. A new adult is being thrust into an important role in their children’s lives, and they may have something to say about it all.
Depending on your relationship with your ex-spouse, you have a difficult situation on your hands. If there are a lot of emotions still fueling your ex-spouse’s decision-making, they have the option of pursuing legal action.
Speak to your attorney
Even if that is the worst case scenario and not a likely outcome, it may be beneficial to speak to your family law attorney, if you believe that your ex-spouse may take action to limit your new spouse’s exposure to your children.
Utilizing the services of a family law attorney who understands the unique circumstances that you may be facing will keep you prepared for the difficult road of a child custody fight. Fathers can find themselves with the short end of the stick, when it comes to child custody situations, and having a lawyer who understands their plight will make all of the difference.
While a reassessment of your child custody agreement with your ex-spouse may be at one extreme end of the spectrum, the other side may be easier to stomach and involve less bitterness and anger on both sides. There are ways of making your co-parenting relationship easier for everyone involved, including your new spouse.
Communication and co-parenting
In situations regarding discipline, it is necessary that all involved co-parents communicate, regarding the events that led to the disciplinary action taken, as well as the subsequent punishment. They need to set a consistent standard of behavior in both households that the child is expected to follow.
Communication between the co-parents also should take place outside of situations involving discipline. If a child has an issue at school or among their friends, sharing this type of information can help all parties prepare for ways of helping the child.
If a child has a basketball game, choir concert, church retreat, or some other type of activity that may require them to utilize time that would have been spent with the opposite parent, as per the outline of the parenting plan, communication will allow the opposite parent and their spouse to adjust their plans and enjoy attending whatever activity the child may be involved in.
Involving the children in this type of positive communication also can be beneficial. It allows all co-parents to promote one another’s roles in a child’s life.
This is especially important for your spouse, who still is trying to navigate their way in a child’s life and is uncertain about the role that they play in their development.
Reassurance and stepparenting
For them, part of it comes from their lack of experience in parenting. They may not know all of the ins and outs of it and can sometimes get flustered at the level of responsibility. There also is an element of vigilance required when being in the role of a parent. Making sure a child is safe and their well-being is taken care of is vital, and for someone who is new to the job, these types of expectations can be intimidating.
As the parent, you should be able to relate to some of the early jitters you may have experienced when your first child was born. You may not have known what to do or how to act at the time, but that does not mean you did not try.
Positive reinforcement will be appreciated. Your spouse is trying to be the best stepparent possible, and in those uncharted waters, they are searching for their new sense of normal, as well. Luckily, they have you to help them.
Balancing the adjustments of a new marriage and being a parent may not be the easiest tasks, especially in situations involving an uneasy ex-spouse making child custody difficult, but having someone by your side can give you the necessary strength to soldier through the toughest of situations.
Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on ElderCareLaw.com. Mr. Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the YouTube series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with Joe Cordell.
Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future. He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.