Basic Principles of Inheritance
The basic principle in England and Wales is that each individual is free to make a will that leaves his or her assets as s/he chooses. There are certain rules that affect the validity of a will (for example, two independent witnesses must together witness the testator’s signature), but provided the will is valid, only people within certain categories of relationship to the person who died are entitled to challenge the effect of the will. If, as is very common, someone has died without making a will, that person’s assets are distributed according to the laws of intestacy. These are strict rules that require the assets to go to the dead person’s spouse, children,...
Bringing your family closer
Having a new baby in a stepfamily can be a happy time, but it is also one that can trigger all sorts of unpredictable feelings and responses in a stepfamily. For many couples that already have children from previous relationships, a new baby represents their commitment to building a new family together. However, stepchildren may see it as a final sign that their mum and dad will never get back together again and children may have mixed reactions.
Children and stepchildren
For any parent, love for a new baby can temporarily overshadow feelings for...
Many people feel unsure of the role grandparents and stepgrandparents play in stepfamilies. During divorce, separation or remarriage, grandparents, like the children, do not have much of a say in the changes which take place. Yet they may be involved in providing considerable support. Grandparents and stepgrandparents can be advocates for their grandchildren – understanding their challenging behaviour, helping them to understand decisions made on their behalf by their parents, and helping parents to see their children’s point of view.
What are the issues for grandparents and stepgrandparents?
Grandparents can provide practical support at times of...
Coming together as a stepfamily can be complicated. It might be a time of hope – an opportunity to start again and be a happy and contented family. But a stepfamily is formed when a parent takes on a new partner following a divorce, separation or bereavement. This means children may still be dealing with the absence of a parent, and so it may be a long time before a stepfamily feels safe and secure. The best start for a stepfamily is to be aware of some of the challenges ahead. Take things slowly: everyone needs time to adjust.
Introducing a new partner
To your child, a new partner is a stranger. They’ll need time to get to know him or her and to...
If you or your partner have children from a previous relationship living with you then you are a stepfamily. When stepparents are taking full day-to-day responsibility for stepchildren they may want to make their relationship with these children more formal. One way to do this is adoption. A stepparent who is the partner of the natural parent of a child can apply to adopt their partner’s child or children. There are other ways now to take on parental responsibility for stepchildren and you need to consider what is best for the children, you and your partner.
What is the effect of an adoption order?
When a stepparent adopts their partner...
It is not uncommon for a stepparent to be seen as a child’s birth parent when he or she has cared for the child since the child was very young. In cases where the absent birth parent has lost contact, or has died the child, and perhaps others, may believe that the stepparent is the biological parent. However, this kind of information is very hard to keep from a child. It is very likely that someone will tell them at some time.
Do I explain to my child that my partner is not their biological parent? Or do I say nothing?
- You need to ask yourself a number of questions before deciding what to do. The things to consider will vary depending on:
- The circumstances and the age of the child
- The needs and rights of the child...
If you have recently become part of a stepfamily, whether you are the stepparents or have brought a new partner into your children’s lives, you will know that it takes time to build a new family. New relationships need to develop and existing ones have to feel secure again. But children often find it easier to adapt to new lifestyles and with time and effort it’s possible for the new stepmother or stepfather, together with the new living arrangements, to feel completely natural to them. Parentline Plus top tips for successful stepfamilies
- Value those around you. Remind everyone that relationships need to be worked at.
- Teenagers can be difficult, especially when it comes to discipline, so don’t always assume that the problems arise from the forming of a stepfamily...
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