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Should you develop a relationship with your child's stepparent?

When parents divorce, they often remarry other partners. These blended families can add extra layers of complexity to child custody agreements.

Of course, as a parent, you likely realize that your child will benefit from having positive interactions with his or her stepparent. But is it necessary for you also to have a relationship with your husband's or wife's new spouse?

It might be. Certainly, there's no need to make him or her your new best friend. Indeed, that would be rather strange. But all can benefit when the adults are able to have friendly — or at least, civil — interactions with one another.

This may be especially difficult after an acrimonious divorce, even more so if your ex's new spouse was the former paramour during your marriage. Still, if you can manage to get past the old resentments, it is your child who will ultimately benefit.

Below are some tips for getting along with your child's stepparent:

  • Focus on civil interactions: You already have the common ground — the well-being of the child. Keep discussions focused on the kids and don't stray into dangerous territory.
  • Competition is counterproductive: One-upsmanship will do nothing but encourage the kids to pit one parent against the others. Presenting a united front shuts that down.
  • A genuine compliment goes a long way: If your child's stepparent recently did him or her a solid, express your gratitude. If you can't bring yourself to say the words, send a text, an email or even a card.
  • Don't fuel the fire: If you sense trouble in paradise in your ex's new relationship, stay out of it. One of the benefits of divorce is being able to sidestep drama involving your ex.

If, despite your best efforts, you feel that your ex's new spouse is undermining your parenting efforts, it may be time to revisit your custody agreement in the Atlanta family courts.

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