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I've been down this road and still traveling, I have about 7 years of experience so far with blending families, read many books and have found what works, what doesn't and what you can't control.

Child support should be a pre-determined amount of money or percentage of each paycheck. There should be no extras unless they are specifically spelled out in the seperation agreement, such as sharing education expenses or doctor bills 50/50. The ex should never think he/she can spend your money without consulting you first. There should be no, "I bought Jr. a new bike, you owe me for half." If the ex bought the bike, the ex pays for the bike, unless approved in advance by you. If they want you to pay half, ask for the bike and receipt, then take both back for a refund.

After a couple of these episodes, the ex will learn not to spend for you.

You are wise to seek advice before blending families as there are MANY pitfalls and this does not happen overnight. The average well-blended family takes 5-7 years of dedicated hard work from all involved to be successful. Some families never blend fully, and second and third marriages have a 70% failure rate compared to 50% for first marriages, almost always due to disagreements about raising the kids. This is not to discourage you, but to prepare you for the hard work necessary to be successful! It CAN be done and be very enriching, but it will not happen by itself, your course must be carefully charted and position constantly updated.

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