Divorce often brings about many changes in the lives of both parents and children. One change that can have a great deal of impact on children is the remarriage of one or more parents.
A question that may arise in the face of this is whether or not this is grounds for custody change. In and of itself, it is not, but judges may consider how certain factors surrounding the remarriage affect the best interests of the children if a custody modification request comes before them.
Stability and environment
Remarriage can introduce new elements into a child’s life, including step-siblings and a different living environment. Courts assess whether these changes positively or negatively impact the child’s overall stability and happiness. New stepchildren may also put further strain on the household’s financial abilities, which may affect the children’s lives as well. It may also be a concern if the remarriage causes a move that has negative consequences for the children.
Relationship with stepparent
The relationship between children and a new stepparent can seriously alter the quality of their lives. A healthy, positive bond can demonstrate an enriching environment. However, the presence of conflicts and an uneasy or contentious relationship can cause unhappiness and negative effects on the children’s well-being. Judges may find this worrying.
In Mississippi, as in many states, the court may consider the child’s preferences, especially if the child is mature enough to express their wishes. While this isn’t the sole determinant, it can influence custody decisions, including situations where a parent is considering remarriage.
According to the Utah State University Extension, children may struggle with feelings of loss and betrayal as they reconcile that their parents will not get back together and try not to betray their other parent. If the remarriage brings about other major changes like a move, even just within the house, or sudden proximity to hostile stepsiblings and stepparents, it may seriously affect the children’s mental and emotional well-being. When remarriage constitutes a material change that negatively impacts children, it may be grounds for a custody change. However, judges will focus on the best interests of the child, not just the remarriage itself.