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Stepfamily and finances

March 25, 2013

There are so many different areas of stepfamily life that needs to be addressed. Finances should probably be discussed in any marriage, but as most things this is more complicated in stepfamilies.

There are several aspects of this that can potentially make it more complicated than in ordinary families:

– In nucelar/ordinary families, both the mom and the dad has a  responsibility to provide for their children. This responsibility is not merely ethical but juridical as well. In stepfamilies only one of the adults have the responsibility juridical to provide for the child. The stepparent is not obliged to be a provider.

– There can be many emotions connected to providing for a child that is not your own. For let`s`face it: as a stepparent you DO provide for your stepchildren. You might be working full time and participate in paying the morgage for a house larger than what you would have needed without the stepkids. When you shop for groceries, you do buy food to all the members. Or maybe you work part time, in order to take care of all the children in your home and therefor sacrifice some of your income.

– If you are married to a part time dad, you most likely need to deal with child support. Child support can sometimes feel fair, if the cooperation between the two households are good. If the mom takes on full responsibility to provide for clothes, activities, pay for kindergarden etc, child support might feel very right. However, if the cooperation is not working and the mom never sends with anything (but perhaps do the contrary, actually never sends back clothes you have bought), constantly asks for more money for activites – child support might feel unfair. If the mom earns less, but works hard, child support might feel very right. But if the mom earns a lot of money, more than what she has reported, and the dad earns less, child support might feel unfair. Or even worse, if the mom does not work at all but has a rich husband who provides for her but this is not being taken into consideration, child support might feel unfair.

– To a certain degree your economy is directly connected to another households. Most countries have rules where child support is connected to both`s level of income.

– One of the parents might have a higher standard than the other, and this standard might affect you in different ways. If the mom has a very high standard of living, her children might be used to this. That can cause tension when the kids stay with their dad, who has a lower standard.

– There might be rules connected to inheritance. In my country, as a wife you have the right to inherit all of his belongings if your husband dies. Your biological children can not demand their inheritance before after both their parents have passed away. With stepchildren involved there is a different story. They have the right to inherit their parent right away, and the stepparent can not deny them their inheritance or delay this until after her own death (unless the stepchildren agree on that). This might lead to situations such as you having to sell the house where you and your younger, biological children live, in order to be able to give the stepchildren what they have the right to. This law might lead stepparents to be protective about their economy.



So how do people out there solve it practically?

Me and my husband have a semi shared economy. This is how we do it:

– We both work full time.

– We have separate spending accounts. From his spending account he pays child support. I am not directly affected by child support and do not pay for my husband`s child support. Child support affects him, so that he has less to spend on himself each month

– We have a shared account for bills. We have defined what bills should be paid from this account. I pay my own cell phone bill  and my own student loan from my spending account, among other things. My husband pays a little bit more than I do in to the shared account, because of his two children.

– We pay the same amount each month down on our loan.

– I pay for all the children`s clothes.

– In our country, the single mom (if the child`s residence is at her house), receives child support from the dad, but also from the government. Every mother receives child support, regardless of income, but single moms receives double public child support. She also gets reduced tax. We have none of these benefits, even though the children are living with us almost half of the time.

– My stepkids have two different mothers. Both of them has just as high (or higher incomes) as my husband. Both of them receives the benefits, but none of them sends with anything to our house. We have everything the children need in our home. This is not how it is suppose to be juridically , but it is necessary in our situation. The one mom does provide for everything the child needs at preschool and she never asks for more money. She always sends clothes back that belong to our house, and we send clothes back that belong to her house. My stepchild has learned that he has two different homes, and certain things belong to his mom`s house, and certain things belong to our house. This way my stepson always has everything he needs at our house. We never have to deal with toys that disappear or clothes we do not know where are. Child support feel like a good arrangment in this case, because the mom provides for everything he needs except from when he stays with us. The other mom does not provide for everything for school. My stepdaughter might just as well come to our house without the things she needs for school and expects us to get it for her. She wants to bring clothes to her mom`s house from us, and often it does not come back. Things are often lost, and we do not know where things are. Sometimes I buy new clothes, and they are gone before they have been worn once in our home. What if the rain boots are at the mom`s house, and it is pouring down the morning she is going to school? I first started buying triple of everything she needed, but I soon realized we did not have an economy to do that. And also, I was not interested in spending my money on clothes that disappeared, when it actually is the mom´s responsibility to send with clothes on visitations. There have been demands about money in the past, but not so much anymore. Child support seems unnecessary in this case, as the mom has few expences we do not have.

– Everything I inherit from my parents, I ask them to give in my name. This will be my property no matter what happens, and can help me if my husband passes away and I will need to pay my stepchildren their inheritance. I believe it is a good idea for the stepchildren to receive their inheritance immediately after the parent passes away. This will give them what they are entitled to, and will hopefully cause less conflicts. As a stepmom I need to be prepared for that day to come. I do not believe in holding on to their inheritance, no matter how much I have provided for them. However, I need to be a smart stepmom, and be prepared for the future.


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  1. I couldn’t really follow the paragraph about inheritances but am very interested. So if my husband dies, his assets don’t stay with me, they go to his children? Is this in the US?

    • Hi. This applies to my country. I don’t know the rules in the us. But here the wife inherit 1/3, the rest goes to children. Biological children do not have the right to get their inheritance before both parents die. Stepchildren have the right to inherit their part right away. It is important that stepmoms know the rules and make healthy and wise decisions. Children should not be robbed if their inheritance. But it is important that women are not left without opportunity to provide for themselves. I would encourage everyone in stepfamilies to get to know the rules and laws applying to this in their country.

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