separated from my wife for 10 months. We each have our own residences and share
time (equally) with our two children A------- (4) and B------- (8) (one week
on/off parenting arrangement). I have been in a (new) relationship with a woman
(P-------) I have known since high school for approx. 8 months. She
unfortunately lives in [another province] at the moment (I am in City XXX). We
see each other every 6 weeks, taking turns on who travels. She is a single mom
with two children (C------- (girl-13) and D------ (8) of which she has sole
custody. Our children have met on several occasions and get along well. P-------
and I have decided that she will move to City XXX in July and blend our
families. I will purchase (or rent) a home large enough to accommodate the four
children with my boys sharing a room (initially to adjust to the new living
arrangements) and depending on the time frame, have both 8 year olds eventually
share a room. P------ and I have discussed most items regarding schooling,
chores, discipline and related. We have established clear ground rules with each
other and will have the children be a part of the discussions when the time
plan is for P------- to move to City XXX July 1, with her children to follow in
mid-August (they will spend the summer with their grandmother in City YYY). We
had hoped this would make the transition from a parenting perspective simpler
and less stressful for my children. We plan to have her children visit City XXX
several times prior to mid-August to prepare for the living arrangements.
is adamantly opposed to the situation and feels that a further
"waiting" period should exist as I am "forcing" my children
into this situation. She wishes to restrict or reduce the time my children spend
with me for a 6 month period (two nights a week and every other weekend) to
transition P------ into the kids' lives. P------ has been a single mom for 10
years and has been in a stepfamily situation previously. She is an excellent mom
and I have NO concerns that she will be fair and loving to my children.
my plan to blend our families unreasonable or unrealistic and or/potentially
damaging to my children? From my perspective she is questioning my abilities as
a parent to ensure a safe and happy home for my children.
She sees this much more damaging than her decision to end our marriage and
separate (that statement is about the separation process NOT about her
decision-please don't misinterpret that).
Disclaimer: The following reply to your question is based only
upon the information you provided. Our comments, suggestions and recommendations
might be very different if we were fully aware of all of the circumstances.
The points that follow appear in the order they were made during the course of
our discussion. They are as follow:
1. Our compliments: You have done a good deal of discussion and planning
and appear to be moving forward in a very thoughtful and considerate way. Our
research shows that the more time you and your new partner spend discussing and
finalizing issues (especially how you are going to manage each other's kids)
before starting the family, the easier things will be for you.
2. A 50 - 50 Custody Split: In the absence of extenuating
circumstances, we support equal custody. When custody drops to 30% or less, the
child(ren)'s relationship with that parent begins to dwindle. Kids are best
served by having a meaningful relationship with both of their biological
3. Suggestion: We suggest that you do not change the 50-50 arrangement in
place. In all likelihood, this schedule has become a foundation for the kids
already. It gives them a sense that their world isn't spinning out of control.
Changing this arrangement will be a major disruption for them. We strongly
suspect that the kids will not want to have the schedule changed. Finally,
keeping the schedule as it exists eliminates any risk of the change extending to
an additional 6 months, then a year, and then 18 months, and etc.
4. Re harming the kids: The research is clear, what harms kids is
lingering conflict between the biological parents following the breakdown of the
biological family. If the goal is to protect the children from harm from this
point forth, the recipe is: 1) set the baggage from the prior relationship
aside, 2) don't badmouth the prior spouse, 3) don't try to run your prior
spouse's life, and 4) honour your obligation to co-parent the kids to the best
of your ability. If you and your prior spouse both follow that recipe, the
chances are very good that your children will be healthy and happy.
5. "adamantly opposed": Given the information we have at hand,
it is our impression that your prior spouse may be trying to be the "master
of two households". In our experience with many hundreds of stepfamilies,
this approach never works. If she wanted to retain her input and influence over
the way you run your life, it would have made sense for her to remain in a
relationship with you. A separation agreement means that you are essentially
independent entities and at liberty to lead your own life and make your own
6. Regarding your adequacy to make decisions that impact your kids: In
general, a parent with custody of a child gets to make decisions for that child
when the child is in their care. Good parents don't take such a responsibility
lightly. If you are a good enough father to have been awarded 50-50 custody of
your kids, it is very likely that you are a good enough father to make good
decisions for them.
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