Family Law Blog

Stepfathers More Likely to Get Divorced

Friday, August 23, 2013

Living in a blended family has its charms, and also challenges. According to a new study, husbands who are also stepfathers are more likely to file for divorce, compared to men in traditional marriages.

According to the study, more than 61% of the male respondents in the research admitted that they initiated the process of divorce in their second marriage. In all these cases, the men were part of blended families, and played the role of stepfathers to at least one child. In contrast, the rate of men who filed for divorce in traditional marriages is just 30%.

There are several reasons why stepfathers felt the need to initiate divorce. At least two- thirds of the men in the research admitted that arguments over the children was one of the main factors that led to divorce. Others mentioned that they constantly felt under-appreciated, and at least one-third reported that they did not find their responsibilities as parents very clear.

Those findings are also corroborated by other research, especially one that was conducted earlier this year by researchers at the Brigham Young School of Social Work. In that study, researchers were able to identify the factors that help make for a successful relationship with stepchildren.

The researchers found that those blended families in which parents, including the mother as well as the stepfather, agreed on how to parent the children and also agreed on minimizing arguments, were much more likely to be successful. The researchers also found that it was very important for mothers to encourage their children to speak out about any frustrations that they may have about the new family situation.

Native American Man Loses Child Custody Lawsuit

Friday, August 16, 2013

In a child custody case that Los Angeles family lawyers saw as a test of government laws that grant extra protections to Native Americans, a little girl who was handed over to her Native American biological father has now been handed back to her adoptive parents.

The 27-month-old girl, had been living with her adoptive parents since her birth, and was handed over to her biological father in 2011.The girl was born as a result of a relationship between her parents, a Native American and non-Native American woman who were engaged. However, the woman broke off the engagement before the marriage, and asked the father if he wished to relinquish his rights as the biological father of the child, or pay child support. The father chose to relinquish his rights to the child.

The man changed his mind when he found out that the child had been placed for adoption, and had been given to a non-Native American in South Carolina. He then moved to sue for custody of the child from the adoptive parents.

A special federal law called the Indian Child Welfare Act worked in his favor, and the man was given custody of the child in 2011. This was even though he had never met his child prior to being given custody. The law was enacted in 1975, after a study found that as many as 35% of Native American children were being separated from their homes, and placed in adoptive care because of the lack of culturally appropriate and sensitive child custody laws.

However, the Supreme Court recently overturned that decision, ruling that the language of the law protecting Native American custody refers to a parent who already has custody of the child, and loses custody of the child. In this case, the father never had custody of the child, and in fact, had never met the child before custody was granted to him.