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The Divorce Encyclopedia
Blended Families

Term Definition Blended Families - the Brady bunch.
Application in Divorce Most people who divorce eventually marry again. A second or third marriage often brings with it children from the new partner’s previous marriage in what are now commonly called blended families -- the yours, mine and (eventually) ours.

A substantial number of adults at one time or another become stepparents, or enter into second (or subsequent) marriages with support obligations from their own previous failed marriage(s).

A stepparent has not legal obligation to support a stepchild; nevertheless, many stepparents end up using marital funds from a second marriage to support children from a first marriage, or using their own funds to support a spouse’s children.

When a subsequent marriage goes on the rocks, courts disagree whether it is appropriate, in the equitable distribution of property, to consider any voluntary support than one spouse made to the other spouse’s child from a previous relationship. Some consider it a discretionary factor that may be considered; others maintain that while such support may be generous, such voluntary support may not be considered in the equitable distribution of property.

In a similar way, courts are about the use of marital funds to pay support obligations to a prior marriage. Courts realize, as one Indiana case put, "[i]n second or subsequent marriages, it is a fact of life that the parties often provide direct and indirect financial support to each other’s children." While such support is not dissipation of marital assets, these expenditures can be considered, as Virginia court ruled, "a negative monetary contribution" bearing on the distribution of marital assets from the subsequent marriage.

See also Stepparent(ing).

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