When a step-parent disagrees with parenting plans

Blending families is often inevitable when people divorce and re-marry or get married for the first time with someone who has children from a previous relationship. The challenge of establishing parenting plans is often intensified in blended families, especially if one or both parents already has an existing court order with another party. Most California family analysts agree it's best to discuss such matters and set boundaries before entering a marriage that creates a step-parent/child relationship.  

Court orders must be obeyed by all involved, period. If a step-parent doesn't like the fact that his or her spouse must travel 100 miles every other weekend to drop off a child or children to another parent, it's definitely something he or she can mention to the spouse but not something that can be changed unless the court approves a new plan. A step-parent cannot interfere with court orders or a parent/child relationship.

When everyone involved is not willing to cooperate or compromise as necessary, things can get messy. The basis of all parental decisions between divorced parents with custody or visitation rights must be the existing court order. All other actions and decisions stem from there, and no one may deviate from the court's rulings.  

If a concerned California parent is having trouble resolving a particular legal issue involving parenting plans and a new step-parent relationship, he or she may seek experienced guidance. Many communities have groups that meet on a regular basis to discuss such issues so people with similar experiences can encourage and support one another. If a return trip to court is necessary to find a solution, it's a good idea to act alongside legal representation to increase the chances of obtaining a positive outcome.

Source: herald-review.com, "Ex-etiquette: Things get rough when preteen daughter visits", Jann Blackstone, April 22, 2018

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