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Parenting Stepchildren/Financial Protection for step parent

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Question
I am engaged and have 2 children (full time. No birth mother involvement). One of my boys is 14, and expressing some defiant behavior. I am working on some programs with him, but my fiancee brought up a good question. If my son were to do something wrong that I would be financially responsible for, big or small, how would her assets be protected? In otherwords, once we get married, could she be at risk if he were to commit a crime or get into an accident that I could be sued for as his father. She owns her home, our home, and has worked hard. I would hate to see her be at any financial risk because of my kids. She loves them to death, but I don't feel she is responsible for them to that degree. Will a prenump protect her? Or is there something specific I can file? I don't anticipate any problems, but I want to give her piece of mind, while not delaying our wedding any longer. Thanks for any info you can provide. --Adam

Answer
Hello Adam - I'm not qualified to answer, because laws vary by state and I'm not legally trained. I suggest you contact a family-law lawyer who knows local statutes. Generally, if a stepparent has not legally adopted a stepchild, they are not financially liable - but confirm that in your state. In most stepfamilies, prenup agreements are practical, because the US stepfamily redivorce rate is high.

I AM qualified to suggest you two adults study some stepfamily basics, in case you haven't so far. See and discuss these together:

http://sfhelp.org/sf/facts.htm

http://sfhelp.org/sf/qa.htm

http://sfhelp.org/sf/problems.htm

http://sfhelp.org/sf/myths.htm

http://sfhelp.org/sf/date/danger.htm

I hope for all your sakes, these will motivate you partners to patiently study this free online lesson on growing a successful stepfamily:

http://sfhelp.org/sf/guide7.htm

If you have questions about any of these, please ask. Good luck! - Pete

Parenting Stepchildren

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Peter Gerlach, MSW

Expertise

I can answer questions about remarriage preparation, stepparenting, stepchild discipline, child visitation, grieving, stepfamily norms and myths, mission statements, stepparent job (role)descriptions, communication skills, loyalty and values conflicts, stepfamily identity problems, common pitfalls, ex mate and relative problems, stepfamily merger and adjustment tasks, name confusions, choosing an effective counselor, resolving money disputes, co-parenting support groups, and the family effects of court (legal) battles. I can`t answer questions about medicine, family law, legal stepchild adoption, or financial planning.

Experience

I have studied and worked with stepfamilies clinically since 1979, and I have been a "step everything" personally. I was invited to be on the board of the Stepfamily Association of America (SAA) by it's founders, Drs. John and Emily Visher; and later was re-invited by president Margory Engle, PhD. For more detail, see this.

Organizations
Former Board member, Stepfamily Association of America (SAA)
National Stepfamily Resource Center (NSRC)Experts Council

Publications
Hundreds of Web articles on sfhelp.org ; I've uploaded over 150 self-improvement videos on YouTube; and have self-published 6 books. My ad-free Web site offers a unique, practical 7-lesson self-improvement course.

Education/Credentials
Stanford University BSME (1958) George Williams College MSW (1981) Hundreds of post-graduate seminars on a wide variety of "mental health" subjects

Awards and Honors
Hundreds of appreciative emails and comments on my Web site and videos from people all over the world.

Past/Present Clients
I have worked clinically with over 1,000 midwestern divorced and remarried family members, and have had over 800 stepfamily students in various seminars and courses since 1981

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