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Feature Article


Effects of Remarriage on Nonresident Parent-Child Relations

Erin Angst, M.A., Human Development & Family Studies Graduate, University of Missouri-Columbia

The relationship between a nonresident parent (a parent that the child does not live with most of the time) and a child may change when either parent remarries or moves in with a new partner. Sometimes a nonresident parent takes on additional responsibilities when he or she remarries and that can affect the parent's relationships with children from previous relationships. Sometimes when a resident parent remarries the nonresident parent can feel he or she has lost control and is being replaced.

There are many possible reasons that remarriage and cohabiting can effect parent-child relationships, and the way the relationship is affected can vary greatly too, as the following quotes from stepchildren illustrate:

Remarriage may result in less contact between the child and nonresident parent:

"When I was younger, I spent a lot of time with my dad, but when he got remarried, she (stepmom) pushed me out, so they could have their own family."

"I used to see dad every other weekend until he married Barb. Then my mom threw a fit, and wouldn't let us go over much anymore."

On the other hand, children may have more contact with nonresident parents following remarriage:

"I didn't even know my dad existed until I was seven and he married my stepmom. She made him get his act together. He cleaned up, stopped doing drugs, got a job, and they got custody of me, because of her."

"If my mom was on her own, we wouldn't see her, because her living conditions were so unstable, but she would always hook up with someone fairly quickly."

Just as a new marriage can affect a child's relationship with a nonresident parent, a divorce or break up of the parent and stepparent can also affect a child's relationship with the nonresident parent:

"When mom got divorced the third time, I moved back in with her, because she was single, and broke and needed the child support payments that dad would give her if I was living with her, and she needed help with the younger kids."

As these examples illustrate, remarriage can have both positive and negative effects on children's relationships with nonresident parents. Support from the remarried parent and stepparent can help children maintain relationships with their nonresident parents.



Last Updated 05/12/2009


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