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Challenges faced by blended families

Blended families face many interpersonal and legal challenges.

One indicator of this is the divorce rate, which is about 40 percent for first marriages. The rate of divorce rises to 70 percent for second marriages when both partners have kids from a previous relationship

What are the issues that blended families run into to, as reflected in high divorce rates? We will discuss some of them in this post.

The family adjustment

Even in the best of circumstances, blended families do not necessarily fit seamlessly together right away. Sometimes there are hurdles, and those hurdles may come from exes. For example, your ex may not like your new partner and try to use your child against him or her. Your ex may tell your child ugly lies about your partner or try to prevent your child from visiting your home.

From within, you may run into trouble if you and your partner have children from past marriages. Parenting styles may conflict, leading to a mindset of "your child" and "my child." Similarly, one partner may criticize the other's parenting style, causing a rift.

Effects on legal arrangements

Remarrying can impact child custody, child support and spousal maintenance arrangements.

In Illinois, a "substantial change in circumstances" is required in order to modify a divorce agreement. Child support could be changed when there is a change in salary, change in geography or other factors. Modifications are often sought when a stepparent gets involved.

Spousal maintenance could also be impacted by a new partner. Like other aspects of the divorce agreement, maintenance can only be modified if there are is sufficient change to warrant it. It's also important to remember that modifications are dependent upon whether you made the maintenance non-modifiable or not.

The couple can choose to review the maintenance during a certain event or on a certain date. If you and your ex-spouse didn't set a date for review, the maintenance will continue until one party requests a review. In order to request a review, there must be a substantial change in circumstances.

Going forward

With daunting divorce statistics, it can be easy to lose hope on truly blending your new family. It's important to remember, however, that communication and consistency - and clear legal guidance - can help smooth out the bumps in such a confusing time. When everyone makes an effort, the chances of creating a truly blended family go up immeasurably.

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