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Divorce and remarriage can lead to complex family relationships

Many divorcees ultimately remarry, creating a blended family. In a blended family, there will be stepmothers, stepfathers, stepchildren and half-siblings, among other relations. Now, researchers are exploring how this will affect the function of these families in the United States.

According to one survey, nearly one-third respondents who were head of their household and is under age 55, had one or more stepparents. And, of married spouses older than 55 who also have grown children, 33 percent of these couples are stepparents.

The study has also found that for couples in the United States with adult children, when one includes stepchildren in this number, it boosts the number of adult children in our nation by 66 percent. This is due to the uptick in the number of people remarrying after a divorce. In fact, over the last 20 years, for people over 50, nearly 30 percent have divorced and remarried at least once. Moreover, around 40 percent of older adults in the United States who are parents are also part of a stepfamily.

It is not always easy to juggle a stepfamily. It can make things like taking a vacation, paying for a child or stepchild's university education more complicated. Spouses in stepfamilies may also have arguments regarding the amount of time and money they should spend on their stepchildren versus their children from a previous relationship. Also, when adult children have stepparents, they have more people to think about when their parents and stepparents enter their elder years and need care.

As this shows, divorce is affecting not just the divorcing couple but also couples who remarry and their children. While this may make family relationships more complicated, sometimes remarrying after divorce can lead to a satisfying family life. In this way, a divorce can be seen as a blessing.

Source: Bloomberg, "Divorce Is Making American Families 66% Bigger," Ben Steverman, Dec. 18, 2017

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