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.