It's no secret in El Paso that divorce and remarriage have reshaped the American family over the past 50 years. Numerous studies have highlighted the family-breaking aspects of divorce, including child custody, child support, visitation plans, and other divorce legal issues.
However, less attention has been paid to its family-growing effects following the end of a marriage and the emotions surrounding "blended" families. But that may be changing. A new analysis shows that American family size when stepchildren and grown children are included has grown 66 percent since the mid-1990s. In fact, the data shows that 33 percent of couples over the age of 55 have at least one adult stepchild.
This generational evolution raises questions that go beyond visitation plans and parenting time, since it involves adult children who are nonetheless face societal and familial pressure to conform to norms of "traditional" American family structure. Should an adult stepchild feel obligated to take an elderly step-parent to a doctor's appointment? Or should this be left to any biological children of that step-parent?
It often comes down to the allocation of resources: how should the resources of stepchildren—who may very well have living biological parents and siblings of their own—be spread in order to fulfill as many family obligations as they would like to have taken care of?
It's a question that must be answered by each blended and traditional family, the situation being so new that guidance may be difficult to come by for decades to come.
That said, guidance during a divorce or in making post-divorce modifications may be available through an experienced divorce attorney. In any legal area of marriage and divorce, from prenuptial agreements to property division, a lawyer may be able to help clients find the best solutions to many financial and emotional issues surrounding the ending of a marriage.