Divorce when you have stepchildren

posted 2 weeks ago in Relationships
Post # 2
642 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

Talk to a lawyer about what you’d need to prove so that you’d get primary custody if you feel that’s what is best for your child.  There’s really nothing you can do about stepson except befriend the mother so that when you have your son they can still see each other when you have him. Your husband can’t stop you from being friends with someone. 

I’m sorry you’re going through this. 

Post # 3
399 posts
Helper bee

Hi Bee:

You need to speak to a lawyer about laws in your jurisdiction.

You may actually be able to have contact with your step-son legally. In Alberta we have “contact” Orders. These are usually for people who have stood in loco parentis (in place of a parent). We see this most often with step-children and grandparents who have contributed significantly. 

In Canada the Courts examine the best interests of the children. They look at the impact on a child to be separated from someone who has had significant involvement in their lives (and still wants to be involved). They also look at sibling relationship (which they may find is met adequately by lining up the 50/50 weeks in dad’s house, who knows?).

Would your husband be able to handle having both children 50% of the time if you weren’t there?

I am always an advocate of avoiding litigation where possible. Check with your lawyer to see if there are psychologist services in your area who offer parenting coordination. This is a huge service in Australia and is growing in Canada. You can have a psychologist act as a mediator/arbitrator while providing an educational component on how to best co-parent. All three of you may benefit from a session or two.

Best of luck, Bee. I’m sorry you are going through this.

Post # 4
1219 posts
Bumble bee

Wow this sounds so hard. I’m so sorry for the loss of your late husband and I’m so sorry you’re dealing with all of this now. 
I don’t have any experience or advice, just wanted to say I empathize with you completely.

Post # 6
2390 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2018

anonybee1000 :  hi bee, I remember some of your other posts.  You deserve much better than this abusive (emotionally at least) relationship, and I”m glad you’re considering it.  I agree with PP’s idea about going to talk to a lawyer as a fact-finding mission.  Also, PLEASE consider going to counseling on your own to talk through this with a qualified professional who will help you come up with your next steps and find the strength to move forward .

As for the kiddos, I know it’s easier said than done: but coming from a broken home is much, much better than growing up in a broken home – which is what yours is now.  You wouldn’t want your children to end up in a marriage like this, right?  You’re showing them that this is what marriage / love looks like.  You can change that!  It sounds like your stepson’s mom would maybe be ok with getting your kids together frequently.  I’m sure she values her son’s sibling relationship just as much as you do <3 

Sending hugs!


Be strong

Post # 7
369 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2019

Hi, bee. First of all, I am so very sorry that you are in this situation. 

If your husband is middle aged he might be having a midlife crisis. My own husband went through this and we divorced after nearly 24 years of marriage. We reconciled and remarried in July but the separation and divorce were hell. I can’t tell you how much it devastated our whole family. Still, it was necessary. 

My husband recently shared an an article about anxiety in men and how it looks very different than it does in women. I can’t say that is what your husband is experiencing, but it sure sounds like it. 


The article is at:



Post # 8
615 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 2014

anonybee1000 :  I was with my ex for 6 years total and his children were primary school age when I met them, and older teens when I left their father. I didn’t know them as babies but they felt like a huge part of my life and I loved them dearly. I watched them grow up and I felt like a really positive influence in their life. 

When I left, their father spoke horribly about me to them- blaming me entirely for the marriage breakdown. One of them sent me a threatening text after this which broke my heart. I drafted a letter and tried to send it to them with their mother’s blessing, and she told me to get out of their lives and refused to pass it on. I honestly couldn’t understand it. 

It was one of the most awful times of my life. These parents had let me love their children, spend time, money, and  dreams of the future on them. But they made it very clear that they were not mine to love when push came to shove. Blood was definitely thicker than water and of course the children showed their loyalty to their parents rather than me. 

The eldest reached out to me when he left home and we still have a friendly relationship. We have caught up for coffee a couple of times. The youngest I haven’t seen since. It was honestly a very heart-wrenching time and I vowed not to date a partner with children after that. 

I am hoping that you could get some legal advice. You have been in the child’s life since he was a baby, and his relationship with your biological son clearly adds much joy and value to his life. Perhaps you could argue that your stepson would struggle with the loss of these relationships and perhaps be given some visitation rights. I have no idea if that’s a thing or not, but worth a try! 

I’m so sorry my story doesn’t offer much hope, but when I left my husband, I assumed I would still get to have a relationship with his kids and I was so shocked at how quickly that door closed behind me. It would be so wonderful if that didn’t happen in this case, especially if you have a good relationship with the mother (I didn’t). 

Best of luck. It’s such a difficult decision and one that I really relate to. At the end of the day, you are better off not being part of relationship that makes you unhappy. I think some counselling might also help you to see your way. I really hope you are ok and am sending the biggest internet hug. xx 

Post # 9
12 posts

anonybee1000 :  Bee, this is not a simple stepchild relationship in your case.  Your stepson is biologically your son’s half-brother and family courts will show some deference to that, such as trying to line up visitation schedules when possible.  That only helps you indirectly by helping the boys still “feel” like brothers and therefore want to spend time together.  And if their visitation with their father is on a similar schedule then that means their time away from their father will line up.  You mentioned that you get along with your stepson’s mother.  Well, her son and your son are brothers so you can connect with her post divorce for the sake of your son.  If you build a positive relationship with her, she may be agreeable to letting her son join you and your son for occasional activities and visits.  Your relationship with your stepson can’t continue to be as close as it was during the marriage, but through your son you can very likely manage to maintain a connection to your stepson rather than having him drop out of your life altogether as other stepparents end up experiencing.  Your stepson’s mother is your best hope.  Build a positive relationship with her.  Best of luck with everything!

Post # 10
281 posts
Helper bee

ne11y23 :  As a former step kid and current step mom – that breaks my heart! Im so sorry they treated you that way. You were an important parent to those kids and you deserved better.

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