Step parenting involves dealing with a lot of child custody issues. These issues range from making sure one of the parents can pick up a child for visitation to preparing for custody court. For many step parents, learning how to deal positively with the custody issues cuts down on stress and helps them develop good relationships with the children and with their spouse. Here are some suggestions for step parents about how to deal with some of the bigger child custody issues.1. Financial issues. A big part of the child custody process involves money. Step parents should be prepared to handle the financial aspects of the custody situation. This means sitting down with their spouse and finding out the exact expenses for the custody case. On top of monthly child support payments, they parents may need to pay for school expenses, extra-curricular expenses, and other living expenses for the child. If there has been a long, bitter child custody case there could also be substantial debt to an attorney or other legal fees.Money issues are one of the most difficult things to work through. That’s why the step parent and the parent need to sit down and come up with a plan for how they will pay for everything. They need to be in agreement about the way things are handled financially, or there will be problems. If the step parent has problems with how much extra the parent is paying for the child (on top of child support) and thinks the other parent is taking advantage of the parent, try to come up with a way to compromise. Work with the child’s other biological parent to make things fair.2. Issues with the ex spouse. Because the step parents spouse shares children with another parent, the ex spouse will always have a presence in the household. It’s best to just accept this fact. Step parents should work with their spouses to become a team about child custody so that they are on the same page. If the new parent is uncomfortable with the way the ex spouse deals with the family, they should take their concerns to their spouse and they should figure out a solution. Discuss things in a rational manner and work toward building a new family unit.3. The children. There needs to be time for the step parent and the children to adjust to each other. There should always be respect from the children and the parents–a step parent should never have to handle extreme behavior problems and rudeness. The biological parent should make sure that things are civil in the house. Step parenting requires a lot of patience and understanding toward the children. Keep persevering and things will get better.
A few of my friends have become step parents in the last few years. We talk frequently about their children and what is going on with their families. It’s been very interesting to hear about how they have handled the adjustment to parenting and some of the issues that go along with that. At some point, they have all shared problems that have arisen because of the child custody situation. The more we’ve all discussed, the more we’ve come to realize how to best handle the issue of child custody. Here are three child custody rules that have developed that can help while step parenting.1. Don’t expect the situation to magically change. A step parent may feel like once they are involved, they’ll be able to help their spouse work out the child custody issues. The new spouse can be very helpful and supportive, but a step parent needs to accept that changes for child custody go very slowly. Because the step parent is new to the situation, they may want immediate, drastic change for any flaw they find with the custody agreement. They may also want their spouse to stand up more to the other parent and not give in to so many demands. It’s best for the step parent to take a deep breath and be patient. This will allow the new couple to work together to solve custody issues and be okay with small victories.2. Give the children time. Different children respond differently to step parents. Some may be fine with the transition and may enjoy having the other person around. Others may be resentful or jealous of their parent’s attention for the new person. Give the children time to adjust to the step parent. It’s also important to let the children adjust to a different situation with custody and visitation. The parents should do everything they can to make this easier for them.3. Work out problems with your spouse first. If there are issues with the children (like them disobeying or being disrespectful) decide with your spouse how you will handle that. It’s imperative that the parents are a team when dealing with the children. It may be more beneficial for the child’s biological parent to have a calm discussion about inappropriate behavior than the step parent reacting in a big way. The step parent shouldn’t ever feel slighted by their spouse and the children. The spouse should be a big support as the step parent adjusts.These are just a few of the basic child custody rules that have helped my friends through the years. If you are a step parent, or about to become one, you are in for a good time. There may be difficulties, but the rewards far outweigh the challenges.