Tag: Blended family

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My Stepchildren are Driving Me Crazy! and Other Refrains from a Blended Family

Like many couples out there, I’m part of a blended family. You see, my life isn’t just about law.  I’m living in a committed, long term relationship with my life partner. She has 2 daughters from a previous marriage and I have a daughter. So, we live as a blended family.

Now, despite the interesting title to this blog, her children DO NOT drive me crazy. Promise. I just found it to be a catchy title for this blog and an appropriate way to introduce the topics to be discussed in it.

Living in a blended family is one of the reasons that I’m so interested in focusing on estate planning for couples in second marriages and blended families because I know first hand some of the issues, and stresses, that they face everyday. But, let’s take a break from my regular blogging about legal topics and consider some of those challenges.

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How Do We Define the “New American Family?”

Not long ago, the traditional American family typically consisted of a husband, a wife and two to three kids (think “Leave it to Beaver”). But, the growing incidence of separation, divorce, remarriage and unmarried hetero and same-sex couples living together with kids has changed the landscape of how we as a culture define a family.

Noted Indiana University sociologist, Brian Powell, set out to determine how Americans’ definition of what constitutes a family has changed over the last decade. Not surprisingly, what he found was that we’ve been moving away from the traditional “Leave it to Beaver” idea of family to arrive at a view of the “New American Family” which comes in many different forms.

Powell’s findings revealed that almost 100% of people consider a husband, wife and kids as a family. Yet, he also found that over 83% of people consider cohabiting heterosexual couples with kids to be a family and that now over two-thirds of Americans agree that same-sex couples with kids are a family.

Take the kids away from the “family equation” and those percentages drop drastically. For example, only 39% of people consider a cohabiting hetero couple with no kids to be a family even though that cohabiting couple might consider themselves a family.

In the end, though, when it comes to defining a family all that may matter is how people view their own living arrangements. Whether you’re a traditional family, blended family, domestic partnership or single parent, over 60% of people now agree that if you consider yourself a family, then you are a family.

Regardless of how it’s defined, the “New American Family” faces many different legal issues in this day and age. From designating health care agents, to drafting wills that protect everyone, to choosing guardians for kids, all families are faced with these challenges.  So like the old program “All in the Family,” our blog is dedicated to tackling the legal issues facing our New American Family.