Many divorced parents remarry or cohabitate, thus creating a fundamentally different family structure with unique challenges and potential rewards. There is a considerable knowledge base regarding “blended” or stepfamily structures and dynamics, as well as what works and what doesn’t to meet stepfamily challenges (Papernow, 2013, 2018). Although 42% of all Americans have a close stepfamily relationship (Parker, 2011), remarkably little attention has been paid to how these issues manifest throughout family law venues (Anderson & Greene 2013).

In this plenary, the presenters will share this knowledge base and apply it directly to the wide range of family law professionals who work with stepfamily dynamics, including as co-parenting counselors, parenting coaches, mediators, parenting coordinators, parenting plan evaluators, attorneys, and bench officers. The plenary will include didactic presentations, case studies and interactive discussions.

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will be able to describe three fundamental differences between “first-time families” and stepfamilies.
  • Participants will be able to describe three normative stepfamily challenges and what works, and doesn’t, to meet them.
  • Participants will be able to identify ways in which parenting plan evaluators should consider the input of stepparents in family evaluations.