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Divorce can cause extended families to grow

The large number of divorced families in Illinois means that the definition of family has branched out in several directions, and the size of American families has also grown as well. Research has found that divorce has made American families significantly larger as stepparents, stepchildren and half-siblings enter a family after divorce.

Almost one-third of U.S. households headed by adults under 55 include at least one stepparent. Similarly, 33 percent of couples over 55 with adult children have stepchildren among them. The study included both married and unmarried couples living together. The study also found that for American families that include grown children, including stepchildren increases family size by an average of 66 percent.

Since 1987, the divorce rate has nearly doubled for Americans over the age of 50, and approximately 30 percent of people over 50 have married more than once. Around 40 percent of people over 50 with children have stepfamily relationships. Stepfamilies can bring new relationships and sources of support, but they can also be a source of tension in relationships, particularly around financial issues like vacations, education and the costs of aging.

The degree of closeness among stepfamily members can vary depending on the ages at which they came into each other's lives. Adults with grown children who remarry later in life are unlikely to develop a parent-child bond with adult stepchildren living independently. On the other hand, children who grow up with a stepparent in the home can form a deep familial bond.

For people going through a divorce, the end of a marriage can be a difficult time, especially when there are children involved. A family law attorney can help protect a parent's relationship with their children and advocate to protect their interests in terms of child custody, spousal support, asset division and other issues that arise in divorce.

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Bradley R. Tengler, P.C. 728 North Court Street, Suite B Rockford, IL 61103 Phone: 815-981-4859 Fax: 815-997-5129 Rockford Law Office Map