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The creation of a blended family can create a number of obstacles not only between you and your new family but also between you and your old family.  In order to make the new blended family work a balancing act of competing interests is often involved.  Based upon my experience as a Brooklyn, New York Divorce Attorney, the scenario below highlight blended homes.

A divorce involving children generally ends with an agreement that, among other things, sets forth the terms of custody and parenting time (visitation).  One thing a divorce agreement generally does not take into account are the implications involving “Blended Families.”  A blended family occurs when two people with children from prior relationships enter into a new relationship creating a myriad of “step” relationships (step mother, step father, step brother, step uncle, etc.).

Scheduling Conflicts

Planning a summer schedule  in a blended family can be a complicated issue.  During the summer events may pop up that could wreak havoc on a already determined summer visitation schedule. For example, I had a divorce client that got married again and blended two of his children with two of his wife’s children.  My client’s ex wife also got married again to a man with two kids.   My client’s wife’s ex husband got married again to a woman with three kids.  The great thing about this was that a bigger family was created, hence more love to go around.  The tough part was the summer.  There were multiple interests involved in planning a summer schedule.  There was my client, my client’s new wife, my client’s ex wife, my client’s ex wife’s husband, my client’s wife’s ex husband, my client’s wife’s ex husband’s wife, and seven children in total.   

Planning the summer schedule for my client was challenging and  involved multiple permutations.  My client and his ex wife had a summer schedule that entailed the kids spending alternate weeks with them.  My client’s new wife had a similar agreement with her ex husband.  My client’s wife’s ex husband’s wife had an agreement with her spouse where she had her children two consecutive alternating weeks. My client’s ex wife’s husband had a similar schedule to this one.

The first problem was that the differing alternating schedules meant that the parents would have one set of kids one week and a different set of kids the next.  This meant no free time for the newlyweds in the summer.  My client did not want this because he, of course, wanted all the kids together at the same time.   To add complexity, he and wife wanted to take all of their kids away to Florida on the same week that his wife’s ex husband wanted to go to the Jersey Shore (he planned a two week trip to conform with his new wife’s schedule).  Finally, my client’s ex wife out of the blue notified my client that she had rented a house in Cape Cod on my client’s week by mistake, which not only violated the visitation schedule but threw off everyone’s plans.

Needless to say, a lawyer’s help was needed to figure this out and it was.  We managed to renegotiate the summer schedule between my client and his ex wife and the other ex- spouse’s did the same with their attorneys.  The result was that some sacrifices had to be made.  Since my client’s ex wife breached the visitation schedule, my client got an extra week in the summer with his kids (two consecutive weeks instead of one) which worked out because of the extra week my client’s wife’s ex husband had planned with their kids. Also, all parties agreed on a visitation schedule that placed all the children together in the same household at the same time.

Why did this scenario work out?  After much convincing, the parents realized that it was in the children’s best interest to work something out. My client could have enforced the visitation agreement and not allowed his kids to go away to Cape Cod.  But would this have benefitted the kids, who really wanted to go to the Cape. Also my client’s wife could have enforced the divorce agreement with her ex husband, but she realized this was an opportunity for her children to bond with their step brothers and sisters.

The moral of the story is that although there may be an agreement, things do change and parents need to be flexible to ensure that the needs of their children are being met.  My office deals with Separation Agreements, Divorce Stipulations of Settlement and Post Divorce Judgment Agreements and Modifications of existing Agreements.  My office is located in Brooklyn, New York and I handle Uncontested, No Fault Divorces throughout the state. I hope you enjoyed my article.  Please feel free to comment or share it!