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Stepfamilies lead to increase in family size

Some California families may grow up to 66 percent after the parents divorce and one or both subsequently remarries. This is the result of blended families that happen when there are stepchildren and stepparents.

These families are larger and more complicated, but they also may not be as close. Some people may be torn between obligations to biological relatives and stepfamilies. Couples may argue about who is responsible for paying for the children's education, or people may wonder whether they are required to give as much assistance to an elderly stepparent as they would a biological parent. One study found that there was a greater likelihood that couples who had adult stepchildren would spend and receive less time with their children.

However, these families may become more common with the divorce rate among older Americans twice as high as it was in the past. Bowling Green State University found that nearly 30 percent of people over 50 had been married two or more times. Furthermore, around 40 percent of older adults with children have stepfamilies. People may need to work harder to bring their blended families together.

The challenges of child custody and visitation after a divorce may contribute to some of these issues. For example, if a noncustodial parent remarries, that parent's spouse might feel less connected to or responsible for the parent's child from a previous marriage than the spouse of a custodial parent. Parents may want to address some of these issues in a parenting agreement that they put together during the divorce. For example, they might agree about how they are going to pay for a child's college education. They might also address how they will handle new partners in their lives. An attorney can often be of assistance in this regard.

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