When a person marries someone who has children, they become an instant parent. This role brings a lot of responsibility and challenges to the new step parent. And, there can be even extra challenges if the step parents spouse is currently involved in the child custody case. Fortunately, the step parent can be a big asset to the parent in the child custody case. Here’s some information so you know what to do.
First off, a step parent needs to understand that child custody cases have an undetermined length. Some of them last for years because the parents keep taking each other back to court. Some of the cases wrap up very quickly because the parents can get to an agreement. Understand that you may be in for a long case and you should prepare for that.
To help your spouse with the custody case, you should try to remain level-headed and down to earth about the whole thing. It’s good to be emotionally supportive, but it really doesn’t help the situation if you rant and rave against the ex spouse. When you have opinions about the case, you can express them calmly and clearly to your spouse. You can provide valuable insight because you have an outsiders point of view on the whole case. Use that to your advantage and to help your spouse see different alternatives to working things out.
Don’t encourage your spouse to engage in an unnecessary custody dispute. Of course it’s important to fight for what is best for the child, and that may mean that the parents repeatedly go back to court. Your spouse should never just give in to the whims and demands of the other parent. Look for opportunities of fair compromise that are beneficial to both parents. If the parents are really struggling to come to an agreement, suggest they attend mediation.
During this time you can also be a good support to the child. Don’t ever bad mouth the child’s other parent and don’t try to replace that parent. Be a friend and parental figure to the child. Be respectful of the child’s space and time to adjust to you as the step parent. Step parenting requires a lot of love, forgiveness, and understanding. Show genuine love to the child and be a true support by being willing to really listen to the child.
These are just a few of the ways that a step parent can be a benefit during a custody case. Work on your relationship with your spouse and the children and you will be a great help to all of them at this time.