Legal Issues and Blended Families

Reviewed Nov 26, 2019

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Summary

  • Custody and co-parenting
  • Health care choices and end-of-life issues
  • Estate planning

The term blended family might sound strange, but it is anything but rare. There are many reasons why blended households happen:

  • Divorce and a second marriage
  • Split parents and new partners
  • Death of a spouse

Know that a new family is growing, and it doesn’t have to look like past family units or fairy tales. While there are many emotional issues to think over, there are some legal issues that can’t be ignored. These include custody of kids, estate planning, health care choices, and end-of-life issues.

Custody and co-parenting

Based on the situation, you might want to seek legal custody of a child or children. This will allow you to make choices about school, health care, and religion. The court might settle on joint custody with the parent(s) if they are still in the child’s life or sole custody if they are not, or are unfit. Visitation and other planned meetings will be talked about. With custody, you and the child will have a more secure basis in which to start a bond.

If you end up co-parenting or sharing joint custody, keep in mind that the care of the child is most important. Try to forgive and forget your past conflict with your ex, if that is the case. Invite the new partners and spouses to the table to talk over the needs of the kids. While it might be hard for the adults, co-parenting can often be most ideal for the kids.

Health care choices

There are many health care concerns besides the cost of the health plan. As the head of a blended family, you might find yourself with a variety of age groups and levels of care. Plan for:

  • Physical health needs, dentistry, specialists, mental health care
  • Kids getting shots and wellness visits
  • Seniors needing extra care if aging issues come into play

Even though nobody likes to think about it, a person over the age of 18 should have a living will. This tells the health care team and your family what to do in the case of a tragic health event. If this is not set up, you might get heroic care you would not want. Or worse, a family member will have to make hard choices on your behalf.

End-of-life issues

Some of the bigger legal choices come with end-of-life issues. In a blended family, there might be past spouses to keep in mind, as well as children and stepchildren. It’s good to be clear about your wishes while you are of sound mind and body. Be sure to have a living will and power of attorney for finances and health care, so that your wishes are followed through. When you have set the forms in place, review them from time-to-time. This is key if there are life changes that might affect your earlier choices.

Even if it’s hard, think about your blended family after you are gone. Try to plan for them to have what they need to stay comfortable. Ask your family members to talk over your choices and wishes too. Know that it’s very hard for most people in your family to even think about it.

Estate planning

When you add more family members to the mix, there is more to think about after you are gone. Most estates are made to protect the remaining spouse or partner in the case of death. Know that verbal agreements don’t count here. If both parents or partners die, there should be a legally binding agreement that will protect the family as you wish.

What are your major assets? Think about:

  • Property like jewelry, family heirlooms, hope chests
  • Homes and cars
  • Stocks, bonds, savings, prized collections, and so on

This isn’t only for the very rich. Even if you have only a few items, it’s good to plan who you want them to go to in the event of your death. Also review any beneficiary designations you might have made through your 401(k), life insurance, or bank accounts.

If you take the time to do your legal planning, you can more freely enjoy getting to know your new family.

By Andrea Rizzo, M.F.A.
Source: Co-parenting and Joint Custody in an Extended Blended Family: www.theblendedandstepfamilyresourcecenter.com/home/co-parenting-and-joint-custody-in-an-extended-blended-family/; Estate Planning and Your Blended Family: www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/estate-planning-blended-family-29665.html; Honoring End-of-Life Wishes in Blended Families: www.nextavenue.org/honoring-end-life-wishes-blended-families/

Summary

  • Custody and co-parenting
  • Health care choices and end-of-life issues
  • Estate planning

The term blended family might sound strange, but it is anything but rare. There are many reasons why blended households happen:

  • Divorce and a second marriage
  • Split parents and new partners
  • Death of a spouse

Know that a new family is growing, and it doesn’t have to look like past family units or fairy tales. While there are many emotional issues to think over, there are some legal issues that can’t be ignored. These include custody of kids, estate planning, health care choices, and end-of-life issues.

Custody and co-parenting

Based on the situation, you might want to seek legal custody of a child or children. This will allow you to make choices about school, health care, and religion. The court might settle on joint custody with the parent(s) if they are still in the child’s life or sole custody if they are not, or are unfit. Visitation and other planned meetings will be talked about. With custody, you and the child will have a more secure basis in which to start a bond.

If you end up co-parenting or sharing joint custody, keep in mind that the care of the child is most important. Try to forgive and forget your past conflict with your ex, if that is the case. Invite the new partners and spouses to the table to talk over the needs of the kids. While it might be hard for the adults, co-parenting can often be most ideal for the kids.

Health care choices

There are many health care concerns besides the cost of the health plan. As the head of a blended family, you might find yourself with a variety of age groups and levels of care. Plan for:

  • Physical health needs, dentistry, specialists, mental health care
  • Kids getting shots and wellness visits
  • Seniors needing extra care if aging issues come into play

Even though nobody likes to think about it, a person over the age of 18 should have a living will. This tells the health care team and your family what to do in the case of a tragic health event. If this is not set up, you might get heroic care you would not want. Or worse, a family member will have to make hard choices on your behalf.

End-of-life issues

Some of the bigger legal choices come with end-of-life issues. In a blended family, there might be past spouses to keep in mind, as well as children and stepchildren. It’s good to be clear about your wishes while you are of sound mind and body. Be sure to have a living will and power of attorney for finances and health care, so that your wishes are followed through. When you have set the forms in place, review them from time-to-time. This is key if there are life changes that might affect your earlier choices.

Even if it’s hard, think about your blended family after you are gone. Try to plan for them to have what they need to stay comfortable. Ask your family members to talk over your choices and wishes too. Know that it’s very hard for most people in your family to even think about it.

Estate planning

When you add more family members to the mix, there is more to think about after you are gone. Most estates are made to protect the remaining spouse or partner in the case of death. Know that verbal agreements don’t count here. If both parents or partners die, there should be a legally binding agreement that will protect the family as you wish.

What are your major assets? Think about:

  • Property like jewelry, family heirlooms, hope chests
  • Homes and cars
  • Stocks, bonds, savings, prized collections, and so on

This isn’t only for the very rich. Even if you have only a few items, it’s good to plan who you want them to go to in the event of your death. Also review any beneficiary designations you might have made through your 401(k), life insurance, or bank accounts.

If you take the time to do your legal planning, you can more freely enjoy getting to know your new family.

By Andrea Rizzo, M.F.A.
Source: Co-parenting and Joint Custody in an Extended Blended Family: www.theblendedandstepfamilyresourcecenter.com/home/co-parenting-and-joint-custody-in-an-extended-blended-family/; Estate Planning and Your Blended Family: www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/estate-planning-blended-family-29665.html; Honoring End-of-Life Wishes in Blended Families: www.nextavenue.org/honoring-end-life-wishes-blended-families/

Summary

  • Custody and co-parenting
  • Health care choices and end-of-life issues
  • Estate planning

The term blended family might sound strange, but it is anything but rare. There are many reasons why blended households happen:

  • Divorce and a second marriage
  • Split parents and new partners
  • Death of a spouse

Know that a new family is growing, and it doesn’t have to look like past family units or fairy tales. While there are many emotional issues to think over, there are some legal issues that can’t be ignored. These include custody of kids, estate planning, health care choices, and end-of-life issues.

Custody and co-parenting

Based on the situation, you might want to seek legal custody of a child or children. This will allow you to make choices about school, health care, and religion. The court might settle on joint custody with the parent(s) if they are still in the child’s life or sole custody if they are not, or are unfit. Visitation and other planned meetings will be talked about. With custody, you and the child will have a more secure basis in which to start a bond.

If you end up co-parenting or sharing joint custody, keep in mind that the care of the child is most important. Try to forgive and forget your past conflict with your ex, if that is the case. Invite the new partners and spouses to the table to talk over the needs of the kids. While it might be hard for the adults, co-parenting can often be most ideal for the kids.

Health care choices

There are many health care concerns besides the cost of the health plan. As the head of a blended family, you might find yourself with a variety of age groups and levels of care. Plan for:

  • Physical health needs, dentistry, specialists, mental health care
  • Kids getting shots and wellness visits
  • Seniors needing extra care if aging issues come into play

Even though nobody likes to think about it, a person over the age of 18 should have a living will. This tells the health care team and your family what to do in the case of a tragic health event. If this is not set up, you might get heroic care you would not want. Or worse, a family member will have to make hard choices on your behalf.

End-of-life issues

Some of the bigger legal choices come with end-of-life issues. In a blended family, there might be past spouses to keep in mind, as well as children and stepchildren. It’s good to be clear about your wishes while you are of sound mind and body. Be sure to have a living will and power of attorney for finances and health care, so that your wishes are followed through. When you have set the forms in place, review them from time-to-time. This is key if there are life changes that might affect your earlier choices.

Even if it’s hard, think about your blended family after you are gone. Try to plan for them to have what they need to stay comfortable. Ask your family members to talk over your choices and wishes too. Know that it’s very hard for most people in your family to even think about it.

Estate planning

When you add more family members to the mix, there is more to think about after you are gone. Most estates are made to protect the remaining spouse or partner in the case of death. Know that verbal agreements don’t count here. If both parents or partners die, there should be a legally binding agreement that will protect the family as you wish.

What are your major assets? Think about:

  • Property like jewelry, family heirlooms, hope chests
  • Homes and cars
  • Stocks, bonds, savings, prized collections, and so on

This isn’t only for the very rich. Even if you have only a few items, it’s good to plan who you want them to go to in the event of your death. Also review any beneficiary designations you might have made through your 401(k), life insurance, or bank accounts.

If you take the time to do your legal planning, you can more freely enjoy getting to know your new family.

By Andrea Rizzo, M.F.A.
Source: Co-parenting and Joint Custody in an Extended Blended Family: www.theblendedandstepfamilyresourcecenter.com/home/co-parenting-and-joint-custody-in-an-extended-blended-family/; Estate Planning and Your Blended Family: www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/estate-planning-blended-family-29665.html; Honoring End-of-Life Wishes in Blended Families: www.nextavenue.org/honoring-end-life-wishes-blended-families/

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, assessments, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological, or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2019 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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