Don’t let new spouses assume the role of new parents, at least not too quickly.
When a parent who has custody of the children remarries, the new spouse may be inclined to step into the shoes of the other parent. If the other parents is missing in action, then a new spouse may provide a richer, more complete family environment for the sole custodial parent. In such cases, a new spouse may be a welcome addition to the household, and the children may benefit from having two adults in their home and in their lives. However, when the parent who remarries has a joint custody arrangement with the other parent, then the new spouse may seem like an interloper.
In fact, if a new spouse takes over too quickly, and starts acting like a substitute parent too aggressively, the children may become resentful and protective of the role of the non-custodial parent. Surely, too, there is the risk that the non-custodial parent will feel “replaced” by the new spouse, and may have concerns about the parenting style that he or she applies to the children.
The best advice is to proceed with caution. If you’re getting married while you’re subject to a joint custody agreement or a joint custody order with a former spouse, then you should act to ensure that your new spouse fulfills the role of “parent” gracefully and gradually. The new spouse should never step on the toes of the non-custodial parent, badmouth the non-custodial parent, or attempt to reverse or undo the way in which the non-custodial parent deals with the children. If the non-custodial parent does not feel threatened by the new spouse, then the role of the new spouse is likely to build more effectively and productively….and you won’t be defending any angry motions in court.