Re-partnering & blended families

Australian families are diverse, dynamic and take many forms, including blended families.  Many children in Australia live with either a single parent, a non-biological parent, a step-parent, step or half-siblings or grandparents. 

New relationships bring opportunities and challenges. There may be emotional or practical difficulties at first. Everyone needs time to adjust to the changed family situation. There is support and advice available for families in these situations. 

Renegotiating parenting agreements

Sometimes the issues involved are complex, and previously established parenting agreements may break down, or need to be renegotiated

Practical issues that may need to be reconsidered include:

  • spending time and communicating with family in different households
  • living arrangements
  • parenting approaches
  • holiday time, birthdays and special occasions, and
  • school events

Help and advice for families

There are services available to help families manage the issues that new partner relationships and blended families can raise, including:

Legal and financial issues

You may need to obtain professional legal advice specific to your legal situation. This includes if you want to re‑marry, change any existing court orders, and your Will.

It’s often beneficial to seek advice about your financial situation, and about how your change of circumstances affects your access to government benefits

Michaela and George split up two years ago, when their two daughters were 18 months and 3 years old. Michaela stayed in the family home, and George went to live with his elderly mother in a suburb not far away. The post separation relationship was generally good, with an informal arrangement where Michaela regularly dropped off the girls with George and his mother Erma to stay over.

Michaela now has a new relationship with Adam. She plans to move in with the girls with Adam who has a house on the other side of the city. George is upset about Michaela’s new relationship with Adam, and especially the plans to move. He thinks it means that he won’t get to see the girls as often. 

George calls his local Family Relationship Centre, who suggests that they set up an appointment to develop a new parenting agreement for the care of the girls, as well as discussing what other services would be helpful in managing the changed relationship dynamics, for the sake of the girls. 

Related links

Next steps

Give everyone time to adjust to the new situation.

Seek new ways of approaching relationships and parenting from a local relationships education and skills service.

Contact a family law service or Family Dispute Resolution practitioner for help to make or update a parenting agreement. Use Find Local Help or the Family Relationship Advice Line.

Get legal advice where necessary.