It’s wise to carefully plan your remarriage, especially when children are involved, especially school-age children.
After a remarriage, children may feel the loss of hope for their original family to reconcile. They may also feel like they’re losing their parents as they’d now have to share them with the new parent, any stepchildren, and new relatives that come with the new marriage.
Four in ten new marriages in the US are remarriages for one or even both partners. Furthermore, 16% of the children in the US are stepchildren. Children may experience awkwardness, anxiety, and worry as a result of their step relationships. These feelings are bound to affect the child’s development.
However, beyond the child’s feelings, several vital matters need to be considered, too, such as the financial support and visitation of a child after a remarriage, especially if there’ll be a relocation.
While your child custody agreement with your ex-spouse can stay the same after remarriage, one party can ask to modify the agreement. According to Forever After Studios, the court can decide on modification of child support, visitation, and custody agreements with the best interests of the child in mind.
What Does The Court Consider To Be In The Child’s Best Interests?
The best interests of the child account for child development, relationship with both parents, history of violence, culture, relationship with relatives, age, sex, and maturity, among others.
First, Family Dispute Resolution will help prevent the extreme stress of litigation. If the parents cannot agree on what is in the best interest of the child, an Independent Children’s Lawyer would provide an unbiased and objective point of view in the best interest of the child.
Several other factors that the court considers in the best interest of the child include:
- Familiarity—not disrupting routine and consistency in the child’s life
- Child’s Safety—aside from accounting for violence in a previous marriage, the court also needs to consider the child’s safety with the stepfamily. Growing evidence shows an increased likelihood of child abuse for stepchildren, especially with younger parents, compared to biological children.
- Age: The American Psychological Association (APA) pointed to research that claimed young adolescents (ages 10-14) had the most difficulty accepting remarriage. At this age, these adolescents are still forming their own identities.
Under age 10, younger children can be more accepting of a new parent who acts more like a friend and is a positive influence. Older adolescents can be less invested in family life.
The new parent should only monitor and focus on forming a bond with the children before playing the role of disciplinarian, which the custodial parent should continue to do.
- Primary Caregiver: The court may favor the parent who acted as the child’s primary caregiver when considering custody cases. But, the court will also consider the parent’s ability to seek primary custody to provide for the child’s many needs.
- Bond With Both Parents: In most cases, courts favor children’s maintaining a positive relationship with both parents after divorce and remarriage. The court also considers the parent’s active involvement in the child’s life. The court also finds that one parent is more willing to foster a loving relationship with the child than the other.
Custodial Vs. Non-Custodial Parent: Changes After Remarry
The custodial parent may lose time with the child, and the non-custodial parent may have increased time after remarriage. There can be a modification of visitation and child custody agreements.
For example, the court might find the remarriage of a previously single parent to be positive, creating a more stable environment. Thus, such a parent could have more visitation rights.
However, there are cases where the non-custodial parent may be less inclined to bond with their children after remarriage. If the remarriage results in neglect, favoritism, and abuse, amongst others, the court can modify the agreement for the child’s safety and well-being.
Overall, remember that when courts determine custody, they will ensure both parents have opportunities to play an active role in their children’s lives.
Re-Marriage And Child Support
One thing to consider is that the new parent’s income isn’t an additional income for the newly remarried parent. Thus, it should not be included in their income when calculating child support. However, the new parent may agree to contribute to the financial upbringing of the child.
In any case, the non-custodial parent may also need to pay less to pay for the shelter and accommodation of the child when the custodial parent can find a more stable home through remarriage.
Household Arrangements After Remarry
There will be a lot of issues you need to discuss prior to the second marriage. What do the children call the stepparent? Will you be moving into your new spouse’s home or getting a new lease on life with a property you can call ‘our home’? Who will get which rooms? You’ll also need to have discussions beforehand about the household budget.
Speaking of finances, you may want to refer to a checklist of financial concerns in remarriage planning, including safeguarding your children’s inheritance before getting remarried.
One thing that can put a dent in your household arrangements is if you’ll be relocating. While you’re worried about your child’s custody at present, changing your living environment can also mean difficulties with visitation.
The courts consider relocation a material change in circumstances. Unless the court deems that you are relocating to prevent your ex-spouse from having access to your children, there shouldn’t be anything to prevent you from moving to a new home after remarriage. But, modifying your agreement can mean more or less visitation time for the non-custodial parent.
Child Development And Fostering New Relationships
It’s best to consider the development stage of each child and their willingness to accept your spouse, who has now taken up an official parental role. The new parent should bond with the children, akin to a friend. The biological parent plays the part of the disciplinarian.
It’s wise to have house rules such as respecting every family member to foster harmony. Also, the new parent should be careful when bonding with the children to offer verbal rather than physical affection in the beginning.
Re-marriage can also cause some tension. The kids may have feelings of abandonment and competition. There is also a possibility of trouble from the other parent, who shall make it difficult after remarriage because of feelings of hurt and anger resurfacing.
Finally, remember that while most newlyweds can focus on their relationship with each other in the first year, remarried newlyweds have stepfamilies to consider. The stepparent would have to deal with their own feelings of hurt and sensitive behavioral issues as the child goes through the transition.
Remarriage after divorce or legal separation is bound to be life-changing for children as much as for their parents.
It can be a welcome change that can be positive for their development if you consider adding more stability and a loving new parent. It can also be harmful if the children don’t adjust well to the new parent, as the problem can lead to behavioral problems in school, etc.
As circumstances change with remarriage, several legal matters concerning the child will arise. These include custody arrangements, visitation, and child support. Before making permanent changes to your family dynamic and circumstances, it is best to consult with a child custody lawyer.