Dealing with a stepchild

10 Wise Steps to Deal With Stepchildren

In This Article

Maybe you’ve found the perfect mate, and they already have children. This may sometimes make things a little complicated. You may even be wondering if this marriage can work with children in the mix. 

How to deal with stepchildren? Will the kids like you? What will your daily lives look like with these kids? Will you like them? There are a lot of what-ifs in this situation.

Be proactive and work hard to develop a relationship with your spouse’s children now and in the future. Here are some tips for dealing with stepchildren.

How do you deal with disrespectful stepchildren?

Stepchildren may have a hard time settling with a step-parent. They may feel that their parent’s new spouse is trying to replace their other parent. All these feelings can make the stepchildren act disrespectfully towards the new stepparent.

To understand more, watch this video on the dos and don’ts of stepparenting.

So, how to deal with stepchildren who are disrespectful? Here are some points to keep in mind.

1. Everyone should know their roles

As a parent, even when you are new in their lives, you must know that your role in their life is that of a disciplinarian, a mentor, and a friend. When the kids become confrontational or disrespectful, they should know that the way they are reacting is unfair.

Meanwhile, the children should know that you are their parent’s partner, and you deserve to be respected and welcomed into the family. This is one of the effective ways on how to deal with stepchildren who are disrespectful.

2. Ensure your position in the household is established

Make sure your partner has established your place in the new home and family. When your kids know this is serious business, they are likely to behave that way, too. This may be one of the foremost ways on how to deal with stepchildren who are disrespectful. 

3. Follow the stepchild’s lead

You may feel anxious to develop a relationship with your stepchild quickly, but they may feel overly cautious. Raising a stepchild can be challenging. Realize that you can’t force them to open up to you; pushing the issue may make them retreat further. Respect their space and also their pace. 

They probably will want to take things very slowly with you. Remember, the child’s parents are no longer together, which has rocked their world. You are the new person who is a symbol of what didn’t work out.

They may feel you are trying to replace their other parent. Give them time to figure out that you are a different person who also loves them and that they can trust you.

Related Reading: 7 Effective Step Parenting Tips

Why are stepchildren so difficult?

You may wonder how to deal with stepchildren when they are difficult.  

Dealing with stepchildren can be pretty challenging. It is harder than parenting because it can involve children of different ages. Since the stepkids can be a mix of ages, it is difficult for the stepparent to establish a relationship with them.

While younger children may still be more accessible, teenagers can be even more distant since they are figuring out their life themselves.

How do you discipline a stepchild?

Are you not sure how to deal with stepchildren, especially when they need to be disciplined? Here are some ways you can try.

1. Discipline effectively

If you are the stepparent, you might fear disciplining your new stepchild. Try not to be. The best thing you can do to foster trust and start building a rapport with them is through discipline. 

They won’t like it at first—taking away privileges or other punishments from you may seem unfair to them—but over time, they will grow to respect you. Continually discuss with your spouse how you will both discipline the children.  

Always be on the same page. Then follow through every time. Children need that consistency, especially in this new blended family dynamic.

Related Reading: A Parents Advice on How to Discipline Your Child

2. Start slow

How to handle stepchildren in marriage? The key is to start slow.

Trying to fit into your step kids’ lives, or fit them into yours, all at once will lead to stress on both sides and also cause indiscipline. Instead, start your new relationship off slowly with a short, informal meeting.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself or your stepkids-to-be. Just take things slow and keep your initial meetings accessible and low pressure. Keep them on the short side (think an hour rather than an afternoon) and hold them in a relaxed environment, preferably one that your stepkids are familiar with.

3. Set aside family time

How to make a marriage work with stepchildren? Make family time a regular part of every week. This lets your kids and stepkids know that you’re a family now and that time together is important. Perhaps every Friday will be movie night, or every Sunday will be swimming followed by hot dogs. Try to decide on something that you know your stepkids genuinely enjoy so they don’t feel pressured into it.

You might meet with a bit of resistance at first, but establishing family time as a non-negotiable part of your weekly routine will give you vital bonding time and reinforce the idea that you want to spend time with your stepkids.

Related Reading: 5 Benefits of Spending Time With Family

10 ways to deal with stepchildren

Now that you know how difficult stepchildren can be and how it is so important to discipline them, here are ten ways to deal with stepchildren.

1. Help them feel “normal”

Remember that their world is very different from what they are used to. Before you married their parent, they may have had more attention and time with that parent; they may have done other activities that you aren’t necessarily interested it.  

Help them to feel “normal” in this new life. Encourage one-on-one time between the child and parent without you. 

This will help them feel connected to that parent, and eventually, they will realize what a gift you are giving by allowing that relationship to flourish outside of you being there.

 2. Love them despite their lack of acceptance

How to deal with stepchildren? Especially in the beginning, your stepchild will most likely not accept you. It will be hard not to take it personally, but that is vital to the success of your family. Keep your eye on the long-term. 

Remember that children take a while to grow and mature; that includes figuring out how to love someone other than their blood relatives. Decide now that no matter what, you will love them anyway. 

Accept them for who they are, even if it’s unfamiliar to you. Give them love, and eventually, they will accept you for who you are.

3. Show love in different ways

Children view love in different ways. Some crave being told “I love you,” and others feel squeamish when told that. Others love being hugged and cuddled, but others would rather not be touched, especially by a stepparent. 

Try to figure out your stepchild’s love language, and then show your love in the ways that they recognize the most. Giving your time and attention is most definitely at the top of the list, but solidify it by telling them how great you think they are. 

Also, having an attitude of love and acceptance will go a long way.

This research talks about affinity seeking and maintaining between stepparents and stepchildren.

4. Find ways to connect

When living with stepchildren, find ways to connect with them.

You and your stepchild may not have much in common, which can make it impossible that you will ever be able to connect. What will you talk about? What could you do together? Think outside the box on this one. This is an important way of how to deal with stepchildren.

Maybe even go outside your comfort zone and show an interest in something your stepchild loves. Are they really into a band? Make sure to go to all their concerts. Do they love to hike? 

Buy them a hiking book and bookmark one you could go on together. It may take a few tries to find something that helps link you, but the effort will be well worth it. 

Related Reading: Ways to Build Relationships with Your Stepchildren

5. Give them time

One of the common stepchild problems includes the inability to accept the situation. Your stepkids need time to grieve and adjust to the changes in their lives when their parents split up. 

It is difficult for children to accept that their parents aren’t going to get back together and that they have a stepparent in their lives. They might well see you as the evil stepparent to start with – that’s only natural.

Don’t try to rush or push your relationship with them. Stay fair and consistent, and let them know you’re there for them. Be clear with them that you’re not trying to replace their parent. This is a crucial point of how to deal with stepchildren.

6. Treat them like part of the family

You might be tempted to give your stepkids special treatment to show that you want them to be happy – but resist! Special treatment will draw more attention to your new living situation and make them feel raw and awkward.

Instead of giving them special treatment, include them in your family routines. Ask them to help set the table or assign them some chores. Offer help with homework or the chance to earn an allowance by helping out around the house. Apply the same ground rules as you would with your own family.

This research talks about the quality of life and how the mental health of stepchildren is affected during a remarriage or when they live with stepparents.

Related Reading: Key Tips to Help Stepparents Bond With Their Stepchildren

7. Give them a chance to be heard

Dealing with a spoiled stepchild is challenging, but you can always make it work. If your stepkids don’t feel like they have the chance to be heard, they’re more likely to resent you. 

Watching their parents separate and knowing they have no power to change is hard for any kid. Work on giving them a voice and a chance to share their opinions.

Encourage their birth parent to be their first port of call so they can discuss their concerns with them in a gentle and non-threatening way. Then, you can all share in the discussion. Let your stepkids know that you take their worries seriously.

8. Work on building trust

Trust doesn’t arrive overnight. Take the time to work on building trust with your stepkids so you can have a strong relationship in the future.

In dealing with a difficult stepchild, start by listening to them carefully when they talk to you. Any moment they talk to you or ask for your help with something is a small demonstration that they’re open to trusting you. Honor that by listening to and validating them. Help them learn to trust you by respecting their feelings and their privacy.

9. Watch your words

Becoming a stepparent is fraught with anxiety, and emotions can run high on both sides. Your stepkids are working through some tough things, and they will inevitably push your buttons from time to time as they work things out.

You’ll sometimes hear a lot of bitterness and resentment in how they talk to you, and they will try to push some boundaries. You must stay calm and watch your words no matter what you hear. If you snap at your stepchildren or speak to them with anger or bitterness, they’ll grow to resent you, and your chances of a good relationship will dramatically reduce.

Related Reading: 4 Step Parenting Books That Will Make the Difference

10. Treat all your kids the same

How to deal with stepchildren? Exactly how you deal with children of your own. Accepting stepchildren as your own is very crucial. 

If you have kids of your own, you’ll find yourself becoming a blended family – that’s not easy! But you must treat all your kids the same, and when your stepkids are in your home, they are all your kids.

Talk to your partner and set up some ground rules for behavior, and then work as a team to apply those rules to all your children. Never give your biological children special privileges. It’s a surefire way to build resentment with your stepkids and damage your relationship.

The takeaway

Becoming a stepparent is challenging. Understanding how to deal with stepchildren issues is even more difficult. 

The road to a good relationship with your stepkids can seem like a long one, and there are plenty of bumps along the way. But if you keep your patience and commitment strong, you can build a nurturing relationship that will grow stronger as you get to know each other.

How to Deal With Stepchildren You Don't Like (Expert Advice)

Stepchildren can be tricky to deal with, especially when they don’t like you and you don’t like them back.

So, we asked parenting experts and experienced stepparents to discuss valuable strategies that will help deal with the situation and hopefully make it easier for everyone involved.

Here are their insights.

Rosa Ruey, LMSW

Licensed Master Social Worker, Cobb Psychotherapy

Relationships aren’t always easy, and as they evolve and you take on new roles, sometimes there’s a harder grace period than expected. For many stepparents, the transition isn’t what we’ve seen on the brady bunch.

So, what do you do if you have a stepchild that doesn’t like you or, worse, you don’t like?

A good first step in navigating a stepchild is asking yourself why you don’t like them. Is it because they don’t like you? If so, this is an opportunity to think about why it is important for you to have your stepchild like you.

What meaning does it have for you in being liked by your stepchild? This may open up a path to understanding your goals for this relationship. There is no doubt that being a stepparent is hard. You’re caught in the middle of different lifestyles, expectations, habits, and lots of emotions.

Related: 19 Best Parenting Books

You’re toeing the line of building a relationship, trust, gaining acceptance, and defining your own capacity in the child’s life while often navigating the feelings of the other parents involved and walking on a mindfulness minefield when it comes to the toes you’re avoiding stepping on.

Even as an adult, coming into kids’ lives with a new role is difficult to navigate. Now imagine yourself as the child in that same precarious situation. Makes it a lot easier to see those spots of turbulence when you step into their shoes, huh?

Being a kid, growing through changes and milestones, and defining yourself is hard on its own. Being a kid with a broken or breaking home is a rough sea to sail; redefining relationships, struggling through feelings of change, abandonment, blame—add a new parental figure into the mix, the job just got harder.

Their everyday dynamic has now changed; life as they know it has come to an abrupt halt, and when not so abrupt, they’ve sometimes had to watch it thrash to its end, parents fighting through sticking it out or letting go.

Even in the best of breakups, things aren’t the same, and the simple pleasures of carefree childhood have been disrupted. It’s natural for a child to need somewhere to put the blame, someone for the receiving end of their frustrations.

If you’re looking to get through to the other side and have a lasting love with your new partner and the children involved, here are my tips:

Evaluate the situation you’ve stepped into from all sides

Take some time to understand where the difficulties in the relationship are coming from.

  • Where are you feeling frustrated?
  • Where is the child feeling frustrated?
  • What are your needs?
  • What are the child’s needs?

Examine your own role in the relationship

Taking an honest and curious approach to the emotions coming up for you as a stepparent, as a person, and as a partner can be the way to understand how you can better react to the challenging behavior.

Maybe you need to seek therapy on your own or with your partner to navigate these challenges, communicate frustrations and eventually learn to chart the waters of the new stepparent/child dynamic. Maybe just knowing where you stand and how you feel is a good enough place to start.

Remember who the adult is

Clue — it’s you — you’re the grown-up. Kids are kids, and we’ve had a lot longer to process change, loss, anger, and balance ourselves and the way the rest of the world mixes in.

Whatever your stepchild is serving up, don’t serve it back.

If they’re rude, they may be feeling things from the past or still processing the change. If they’re disengaged, they may have other parental figures that are letting their feelings on your new relationship, their previous relationship, trickle down to what the kids see, hear and feel.

Set healthy and clear boundaries, but if they’re not working from the start, don’t engage.

Let their parents continue to parent and speak privately to your partner about what you’re feeling, dealing with, and how you can both work together on solutions that can be beneficial to everyone.

This is no easy undertaking, and sometimes it can get ugly, and that’s where it’s great to have a professional step in, someone who can speak to the parents on both sides, the child and advocate for the kid(s) in the mix for what they can’t quite communicate and what the adults can do to problem solve and ease the tension.

Teamwork makes the dream work

You’re not alone in this. Circling back to speaking to your partner in private, blended families all navigate new relationships, but that doesn’t mean the primary parent—your partner—isn’t there to help you.

At the core, they know their child (and their ex) best and are pivotal in helping to foster candor, at the least, within this new dynamic.

They’ll have inside intel to what went on in their previous relationship that might have affected the kids and their perception of you, where their own relationship with the kids lies, and what they might be going through overall and will know when to navigate addressing issues on their own, with the other parent or bringing you into the conversation.

Keep in mind that having conversations with your partner on where you are seeing challenging behavior is pretty important. You want to be honest and open and understanding, but in being truthful, be mindful that what you’re saying is about their child. Stick to attacking the facts, not the feelings.

It isn’t personal; you’re dealing with kids.

This will keep the conversation productive and lay the issues out on the table without any feelings of character assassination or their need to protect the kid’s behavior, and dismiss your problems with them.

If you can work these tips in, keep putting the work in and just remember to take deep breaths and come from a place of empathy, you may be on the road to becoming a successful stepparent and building a great relationship with your stepchild.

Will Creech

Stepdad | Web Designer | Reef Aquarium Enthusiast, Reef Tank Resource

As a stepdad of two for the last ten years, I have struggled.

Whether you like it or not, this is a person that you will be living with closely for some time to come and will likely have a relationship with for the rest of your life. The actions you take now will have severe repercussions for years to come in many ways.

Here is a list of things that have helped me.

  • Establish ground rules – Make sure the ground rules for dealing with your stepkids are clear between you and your spouse and stick to them. You might not be completely comfortable with all of them, but there’s more than one relationship on the line here. Push back if you feel you need to do so.
  • Remember, they are not 100% bad – Focus on the positives. It’s easy to dwell on the things that annoy or bother you. If you have a complete view of them as a person, it will help with your acceptance.
  • Keep your expectations low – If they have problematic behaviors, don’t act like you’re surprised when they keep happening. They’re going to repeat them. I’ve read that my serenity level is inversely proportional to my expectations.
  • Remember, you’re helping shape this person into what they will become – It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and forget the bigger picture. You’re the role model. They’re just a kid, and their poor behavior is expected to some degree. Yours isn’t.
  • Apologize if you step out of line – It happens. It will help your stepchild understand you better and respect you more if you can demonstrate when you’re wrong.
  • Always try to be fair – Kids will be irrational. Even if they never step down from being irrational. They’ll know when you’re right, and it will build trust and ease the relationship between you. They probably won’t acknowledge when you’re right, but they’re smarter than you give them credit.
  • Kids have a very hard time admitting when they’re wrong – I still struggle to admit when I’m wrong. Keep that in mind. Kids will go down with the ship to prove a ridiculous point they are obviously wrong about. They’re kids. They will be stupid sometimes.
  • Share your concerns with your spouse and ask for help – A lot of tact will be required here, but you’ll intuitively know what lines not to cross. The relationship with your stepchild isn’t the only one in danger here.

Elliott Katz

Coach | Speaker | Author, “Being the Strong Man a Woman Wants: Timeless Wisdom on Being a Man“

When you marry someone, you marry the whole family. Before you married your spouse, you knew they had children. If you didn’t like your future step-children, you should have considered that before deciding to get married.

Single parents who are dating should not wait too long before introducing their children to a new potential spouse. It’s important, before you invest a lot of time, energy, and emotion into a relationship, to see how your potential new partner feels about your children.

Related: 13 Best Books for Children (On Divorce & Single-Parent Families)

If you wait and there are problems, you may feel you have invested a lot into the relationship and say, “They’ll learn to accept each other.” Unfortunately, I’ve seen situations where a person gets married even though they don’t like their step-children.

They may see the children as a threat taking their spouse’s attention away from them and try to remove the step-children from their spouse’s life. In one situation, a woman’s mother had passed away. Her father remarried, and his new wife wouldn’t let him see his daughter and her children—his grandchildren. The woman felt she lost both of her parents.

How to start liking your step-children:

Be giving to them

As I discuss in my book, when you give to someone, it increases your feelings of love for them. We often think it’s the opposite, that we give to someone we love. But giving to someone you don’t like will increase your positive feelings for them.

Reach out to your step-children and do things for them

Give them small gifts. If they don’t live with you and your spouse, invite them over for dinner. Get to know them and what is going on in their lives. You may begin to see them as good people who enrich your life.

Remember they are your spouse’s children, and your spouse loves them

If you show your dislike for them, your spouse may not respond the way you’d like. In the movie Parent Trap, Meredith gives her fiancé Nick Parker an ultimatum to choose between her or his two daughters. She says, “It’s me or them.”

Meredith was shocked was Nick replied, “Them. T-H-E-M.” I know a spouse who said something similar to their spouse, “If I have to choose, I’ll choose my children.”

Tatiana Perera

CEO, Essential Hypnotherapy

Step-parenting can be a difficult task, especially when you don’t like your stepchildren. Here are some tips for how to deal with stepchildren that you don’t like.

  • Stay calm and composed – You should always try to stay calm and composed, even in the face of adversity. This will help set an example for your stepchild and make them more likely to respect you as a parent figure.
  • Do not ignore – You should never ignore your stepchild, even if you don’t like them. This will only make them feel more unwanted and lead to other problems in the future.
  • Encourage them – You should always encourage your stepchild, no matter what they are doing. This will make it more likely that the two of you can find something to bond over together and break down some barriers.
  • Listen – If you don’t like your stepchild, make sure to listen to them. This will show that you care and want the best for them even if you do not share their love or interest in something.
  • Chore time – If you have a stepchild who is unwilling to help around the house, it may be wise for them to do chores. This will show them the benefits of being part of a family and give them some responsibilities.
  • Find common ground – If you cannot find anything that your stepchild is willing to talk about with you, try finding something. It doesn’t have to be a complex activity or conversation; it is just something for the two of you to do and bond over.

Related: How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen, According to 14 Parenting Experts

  • Take your time – This is hard to do with stepchildren, but if you take your time and give them some space, they may come around.
  • Empathize – If you have stepchildren that seem always to complain, try empathizing with them. It may be hard for someone who is not a parent and has no idea what it’s like to raise children but hear their side of the story.

In conclusion, stepchildren are challenging to deal with. You may not like them, or they may not like you, but everyone in the family must get along and communicate; everyone deserves a place they belong.

Emma Alda

Co-Founder, ModestFish

Show nothing but positivity and respect even when they won’t show it towards you

I am now eight years into my marriage and have three wonderful children with my husband. The oldest, though has not always been on my good side.

My husband and I were married in the summer of 2013, and in addition to gaining a husband, I also gained a step-daughter. She was seven at the time. I was so happy to have an instant family at this moment, but I didn’t expect myself to dislike his daughter so much.

She was extremely spoiled, she lied all the time, and she didn’t treat her father or me with respect. I was not able to love her as quickly as I had hoped to. I had a strong dislike towards her and her lack of morals.

Perhaps it was because she was raised by a single dad and didn’t have the proper upbringing, or that she had no one to teach her positive values, respect, and to be a good person. We spent the first two years in our otherwise happy marriage, with a consistent sense of despise between his daughter and I.

It wasn’t hidden either, he saw the way she acted towards me and the way I felt about her, and our feelings were mutual and transparent.

This was when I decided that it was not going to be too late to make some changes. To teach her and to show her the value a mother could have in her life, even if I was only a stepmother.

I began showing her nothing but positivity and respect, even when she didn’t show it towards me.

The biggest thing that I did that had started the transition in our relationship was to sit her down as a mother would and have serious conversations with her. I had to learn about her life, as young as she was, and make her feel I was there to be a loved one in her life and not an enemy.

It didn’t take long as she was still young and still learning from the people around her. I decided that I had to be a major influence in her life and genuinely befriend her. This, over time, really helped her understand me, and in turn, I understand and begin to build feelings towards her.

I am more protective of her now than I am of my own husband, and that says a lot.

I love her equally now as I do her new brother and sister. In fact, I think disliking her so much, to begin with, has helped us to build an even stronger bond than if I were to just toss her the love card from the get-go.

Relationships take time to build, even if it’s between a mother and her stepchild. There are no shortcuts, and the best ones are made with sincerity and effort.

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Inheritance by stepsons and stepdaughters, stepfather and stepmother of the testator (Malkin O.

Yu., Smolina L.A.)

All articles Inheritance by stepsons and stepdaughters, stepfather and stepmother of the testator (Malkin O.Yu., Smolina L.A.)

In accordance with the Civil Code of the Russian Federation (hereinafter - the Civil Code of the Russian Federation), the heirs under the law of the seventh stage include:
- stepsons and stepdaughters of the testator - children of his spouse not adopted by the testator, regardless of their age;
- stepfather and stepmother of the testator - the spouse of his parent who did not adopt the testator (paragraph 3 of article 1145).
For a long time, there were no legal definitions of these categories of heirs, which in practice led to numerous questions about who can be attributed to stepchildren and stepdaughters, stepfather and stepmother of the testator.
Only in 2012, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation (hereinafter referred to as the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation), in paragraph 29 of the Decree of the Plenum "On Judicial Practice in Cases of Inheritance" dated May 29, 2012 N 9, explained that the calling of those named in paragraph 3 of Art. 1145 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, persons to be inherited depend on two circumstances. First, from the state of the stepfather and stepmother in marriage with the parent of the stepson and stepdaughter. If the marriage is not terminated, the stepsons and stepdaughters are called to inherit after the death of the stepfather and stepmother, and the stepfather and stepmother after the death of the stepson and stepdaughter. Secondly, in the event of termination of the marriage of the parent of the stepson, stepdaughter with the testator, as well as the marriage of the stepfather, stepmother with the parent of the testator, the basis for the termination of the marriage matters. If the marriage was terminated before the opening of the inheritance due to the death or declaration of death of one of the spouses, these persons are called to inherit. At the same time, in cases where the marriage is terminated by dissolution, and also declared invalid, these persons are not called to inherit.
Excluding from the number of heirs stepsons and stepdaughters, stepfather and stepmother, if the marriage of the latter with the parent of the testator was terminated by its dissolution, and also declared invalid, the RF Armed Forces relied on the proposed theoretical approaches.
So, K.B. Yaroshenko noted that outside the legal terminology, the concepts of “stepfather”, “stepson” are widely used and their content is clearly defined: “stepfather is the mother’s husband in relation to her children from a previous marriage”, “stepson is a step-son of one of the spouses who is related to another" <1>. In another definition, the concept of "stepfather" is not singled out on its own, but is given as a variation of the definition of "father by mother", "stepson is a son not native to one of the spouses" <2>. From these definitions, she concluded that between the stepfather (stepmother) and stepson (stepdaughter) family relations arise, which are based not on consanguinity, but on marriage, i. e. property relations. The emergence of a family tie does not depend either on cohabitation or on the mutual material support of the parties to such a family tie. The conclusion that the relationship between the stepfather (stepmother) and stepson (stepdaughter) is of a family law nature is also confirmed in the legislation: Art. 97 of the Family Code of the Russian Federation is part of the chapter that deals with maintenance obligations of other family members. This article provides that the obligation to maintain a stepfather and stepmother, under certain conditions, is assigned to their adult, able-bodied stepsons and stepdaughters. The upbringing and maintenance of stepchildren or stepdaughters for five years is only a condition for the emergence of such an obligation, but not a condition for establishing a family legal relationship <3>.
<1> Yaroshenko K.B. Issues arising in judicial practice in the application of certain norms of inheritance legislation // Commentary on judicial practice / Ed. K.B. Yaroshenko. M.: Legal Literature, 2012. Issue. 17. P. 105 - 107.
<2> Dal V.I. Explanatory dictionary of the living Great Russian language. M., 1978. T. 3. S. 194.
<3> Yaroshenko K.B. Decree. op.

Indeed, in most cases, when a marriage is dissolved or declared invalid between a stepfather (stepmother) and a parent of a stepson (stepdaughter), relations with the stepson (stepdaughter) are actually terminated. Or such a relationship did not even arise. So, there are cases when the stepson (stepdaughter) does not even immediately learn about the death of the stepmother (stepfather), they do not know their last name, patronymic and the fact that they were officially married to their parent. In this case, taking into account the clarifications of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, the life situation can be resolved fairly.
At the same time, a strictly formal approach can give rise to clearly unfair results in practice. For example, the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation received a complaint from a citizen, from which it followed that by the decision of the court of general jurisdiction, left unchanged by the appeal ruling, the citizen was denied satisfaction of the application for establishing the fact of acceptance of the inheritance due to the fact that the marriage between his mother and the testator terminated 12 years before the opening of the inheritance, while the cohabitation of his mother and the testator in the absence of a registered marriage between them, as well as the continuation of family relations between the applicant and the testator after the death of the applicant's mother, do not give rise to any legal consequences for him (Determination of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation of June 24 2014 N 1370-O).
In this case, I would like to note a fundamentally different nature of the relationship between the testator and the heir. The heir had a personal relationship with his stepfather.
M.S. Abramenkov, speaking about the heirs of the seventh stage - stepsons, stepdaughters, stepfather and stepmother of the testator - noted that the state of marriage of the stepfather (stepmother) with the parent of the stepson (stepdaughter) in itself does not yet indicate the presence of a family connection between these persons, which should be established on the basis of clarification of all the circumstances of the case <4> [4, p. eight].
<4> Abramenkov M.S. Higher judicial interpretation of the domestic inheritance law: not without mistakes // Inheritance law. 2013. N 1. S. 8.

In this regard, the authors of this article consider it appropriate to move away from a strictly formal approach to the definition of stepsons, stepdaughters, stepfathers and stepmothers as participants in hereditary relations and be guided by the situational method.
The concept of situational norms was proposed by S.S. Alekseev. He singled out absolutely certain rules that do not provide for the possibility of individual discretion, and relatively certain rules that give the right to judges to consider the case, taking into account the individual circumstances that gave rise to the dispute <5>.
<5> Alekseev S.S. General Theory of Law: In 2 vols. Moscow: Legal Literature, 1982. Vol. II. pp. 73 - 74.

The application of the situational method in the case under consideration means that the judge will have a certain discretion in deciding on the calling to inherit the stepsons and stepdaughters, stepmother and stepfather of the testator, depending on the nature of the relationship between the stepson or stepdaughter, with one side, and stepfather or stepmother - on the other. And in this regard, we can say that "uncertainty is good" for the interests of the family <6>.
<6> Tarusina N. N. Family law: in the "orchestration" of sovereignty and judicial discretion. M.: Prospekt, 2014. S. 73.

The justification for the application of the situational method is seen in the fact that domestic legislation does not contain a legal definition of the family. Accordingly, its determination is impossible except by way of judicial discretion. This situation is typical for family law. Many family law norms contain concepts that are not and cannot be clearly defined in the law: neediness, availability of the necessary funds, unworthy behavior, short duration of marriage, extremely unfavorable position, etc.
When defining the concept of "family", it should be taken into account that the main place in family relations is occupied by personal ties of family members. These ties do not stop only because of the dissolution of the marriage between the parents, if the child lives with the mother; a child born in an invalid marriage retains all his rights, including the right to inherit property after the death of his parents (clause 3, article 30 of the Family Code of the Russian Federation (hereinafter referred to as the RF IC)). In the same way, the relationship of affection between a stepson and stepdaughter, on the one hand, and a stepfather and stepmother, on the other hand, cannot be influenced a priori by the dissolution of a marriage or its recognition as invalid.
In addition, the position of K.B. Yaroshenko, drawing an analogy with Art. 97 of the RF IC, which provides that the obligation to maintain a stepfather and stepmother, under certain conditions, is assigned to their adult, able-bodied stepsons and stepdaughters. In her opinion, the condition for establishing a family-legal relationship in this case will be the existence of a marriage between the testator and the father of the child. As stated in paragraph 23 of the Decree of the Plenum of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation of October 25, 1996 N 9 "On the application by the courts of the Family Code of the Russian Federation when considering cases of establishing paternity and collecting alimony", when considering claims of actual educators for the provision of maintenance by their pupils, as well as the claims of the stepfather (stepmother) for the provision of maintenance by stepchildren (stepdaughters), it must be borne in mind that, by virtue of Art. Art. 96, 97 of the IC of the Russian Federation, the court has the right to satisfy the stated requirements, provided that the plaintiffs are disabled, need financial assistance, which they cannot receive from their adult able-bodied children or from spouses (former spouses), properly maintained and raised the defendants for at least five years, and the latter have reached the age of majority and are able-bodied.
Thus, the clarification of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation does not directly depend on the collection of alimony by the stepfather, stepmother from the stepson, stepdaughter from the state of the marriage of the stepfather and stepmother with the parent of the stepson, stepdaughter. Since the dissolution of a marriage does not deprive the stepfather (stepmother) of the opportunity to exercise the right to alimony, a similar approach should be applied in inheritance legal relations. The status of stepmother, stepfather, stepdaughter, stepson arises at the conclusion of marriage, if one of the spouses has a child. After the dissolution of a marriage or its recognition as invalid, family relations between a grown child and a stepfather or stepmother do not always end.
It should also be noted that the termination of a marriage through its dissolution or invalidation may not depend on the will of the stepfather or stepmother, especially the stepson or stepdaughter. For example, a person who has entered into marriage with an unscrupulous spouse who is already married, as a rule, does not assume this. And in some cases, it happens that the stepdaughter or stepson retains a closer and more trusting relationship with the stepmother or stepfather than with the parent, for example, if the parent abuses alcohol.
Finally, it should be taken into account that if a person is not recognized as a stepfather or stepmother, stepson or stepdaughter in all cases when the marriage is terminated by dissolution or invalidation, the risk of transfer of property as escheat to public entities increases. Stepsons, stepdaughters, stepfather and stepmother are assigned by the legislator to the last line, preceding inheritance by public entities. It seems that the state should ensure the transfer of property upon inheritance, primarily to private individuals.
In this regard, the experience of legal regulation of inheritance by a stepfather and stepmother, stepson and stepdaughter of the testator in the CIS countries is interesting. O.E. Blinkov noted that in addition to Russia, in-laws have a legally independent hereditary-legal status only in the Republic of Kazakhstan. The Civil Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan dated July 1, 1999 named stepbrothers and sisters, stepfather and stepmother as heirs of the fifth line in equal shares, if they lived together with the testator in one family for at least 10 years (Article 1065). There is no requirement here that the 10-year term should take place in the last 10 years of the testator's life, i.e. this fact may take place long before death <7>.
<7> Blinkov O.E. In-laws as legal heirs in the CIS and Baltic countries // Advocate practice. 2006. N 4. S. 39 - 40.

Apparently, in the legislation of Kazakhstan there is no strictly formal approach to the definition of stepchildren and stepdaughters, stepfather and stepmother as heirs. What matters, first of all, is the establishment of a real family connection between the deceased and his heirs.
As criteria for establishing such a connection, limiting judicial discretion, one should consider the upbringing and maintenance by a stepfather or stepmother of his stepsons and stepdaughters for five years, they are enshrined in family and pension legislation. So, in accordance with Art. 97 of the RF IC, the court has the right to release stepchildren and stepdaughters from the obligation to support their stepfather or stepmother if the latter raised and supported them for less than five years, and also if they performed their duties of raising and maintaining stepchildren and stepdaughters in an improper manner. Also, in accordance with paragraph 9 of Art. 9 of the Federal Law "On Labor Pensions", a stepfather and stepmother are entitled to a labor pension in the event of the loss of a breadwinner on an equal basis with the father and mother, provided that they raised and supported the deceased stepson or stepdaughter for at least five years. The stepson and stepdaughter are entitled to a survivor's pension on an equal basis with their own children, if they were raised and supported by the deceased stepfather or stepmother, which are confirmed in the manner determined by the Government of the Russian Federation.
If the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation accepts the proposed approach, the subject of proof in cases of this category will change. It will be composed of the following circumstances: 1) the fact of being married (entering into it) with the parent of a stepson or stepdaughter; 2) the fact of upbringing and maintenance of the plaintiff by the testator, if it is a stepson or stepdaughter, or the fact of the upbringing and maintenance of the stepson or stepdaughter by the plaintiff, if it is a stepfather or stepmother, for at least five years.
On the basis of the presented material, the following conclusions can be drawn:
1. The practice of applying the norms of inheritance law, according to which stepchildren and stepdaughters, on the one hand, and stepfather and stepmother, on the other hand, are called to inherit after each other only if the stepfather, stepmother is married to the parent of the stepson, stepdaughter or the termination of such a marriage due to the death of one of the spouses, does not take into account the situational method of regulation and may well lead to unfair legal consequences;
2. Judicial discretion should be allowed in the matter of calling to inherit the stepsons, stepdaughters, stepfather and stepmother and calling for the inheritance of these persons also in cases where the marriage of the stepfather, stepmother with the parent of the stepson, stepdaughter is dissolved or invalidated, but between the stepfather, stepmother , on the one hand, and stepson, stepdaughter, on the other hand, family relations have been preserved. This approach is justified not only by the need to call "close" persons to inherit, but also by the fact that otherwise the property as escheated will be transferred to a public legal entity that has no personal connection with the testator at all, which is contrary to the principle of justice in hereditary relations.


1. Abramenkov M.S. Higher judicial interpretation of the domestic inheritance law: not without mistakes // Inheritance law. 2013. N 1. P. 4 - 9.
2. Alekseev S.S. General Theory of Law: In 2 vols. Moscow: Legal Literature, 1982. Vol. II. 360 p.
3. Blinkov O.E. In-laws as legal heirs in the CIS and Baltic countries // Advocate practice. 2006. N 4. S. 39 - 40.
4. Dal V.I. Explanatory dictionary of the living Great Russian language. M.: Russian language, 1980. T. 3. 555 p.
5. Tarusina N.N. Family law: in the "orchestration" of sovereignty and judicial discretion. M.: Prospekt, 2014. 288 p.
6. Yaroshenko K.B. Issues arising in judicial practice in the application of certain norms of inheritance legislation // Commentary on judicial practice / Ed. K.B. Yaroshenko. M.: Legal Literature, 2012. Issue. 17. P. 95 - 109.

Who are these stepsons (stepdaughters) and stepfather (stepmother)? - Lawyer Fedorovskaya Natalya Ruslanovna - Articles

The reason for writing this note was a recent discussion under one of the questions about inheritance.

And so. Who can be considered a stepson (stepdaughter) and stepfather (stepmother). The law does not give a clear answer to this. But, nevertheless, a new opinion of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation on inheritance issues has recently come to light, which many have been looking forward to, and which, obviously, in many cases, will be decisive in making vital decisions.

I think everyone understands how this “status” arises. But how it is lost and whether it is lost at all is not very clear. The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation did not bring clarity to this issue in its opinions. What's more, it caused even more confusion.

All of us who have opened the Civil Code of the Russian Federation at least once know that stepdaughters and stepchildren belong to the seventh (last) line of heirs according to the law. This norm became the subject of comments by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation in the now known Decree of the Plenum of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation dated May 29, 2012 No. 9 “On Judicial Practice in Cases of Inheritance”, namely its paragraph 29.

Now let's try to analyze what

issued wrote to the RF Armed Forces about this. And issued he wrote the following:

29. Heirs under the law of the seventh order, called for inheritance in accordance with paragraph 3 of Article 1145 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, include:

  • stepsons and stepdaughters of the testator - children of his spouse not adopted by the testator, regardless of their age;
  • stepfather and stepmother of the testator - the spouse of his parent who did not adopt the testator.

The persons named in paragraph 3 of Article 1145 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation are called to inherit even if the marriage of the parent of the stepson, stepdaughter with the testator, as well as the marriage of the stepfather, stepmother with the parent of the testator was terminated before the day the inheritance was opened . ...

Everything is logical and everything is correct, but THIS follows:
"... due to the death or declaration of death of the spouse who was respectively the parent of the stepson, stepdaughter or parent of the testator.

In cases where marriage terminated by its termination, and also declared invalid, the persons specified in paragraph 3 of Article 1145 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation are not called to inherit ".
And here already we see the absence of any logic. Moreover, we see a clear violation of the rights of stepsons and stepdaughters. Why? Let me explain.

If we try to figure out who these stepsons and stepdaughters are, we will see that the RF IC, for example, refers to them the children of one of the spouses, regardless of whether their marriage is terminated or not, and regardless of the reasons for which it is terminated. Moreover, Art. 97 of the RF IC imposes on stepsons and stepdaughters the obligation to maintain a disabled stepfather (stepmother) even if their marriage with a blood parent is terminated. And in this case he calls them stepchildren and stepdaughters, and not former stepsons and stepdaughters.

Pension legislation also does not link the existence of marital relations at the time of the emergence of the right to a pension for the loss of a breadwinner, which both stepchildren and stepdaughters, and stepfather and stepmother have, but connects this right only with a five-year period of upbringing (read - cohabitation

From all this, the conclusion is seen that the emerging legal status - stepson (stepdaughter), stepfather (stepmother) is not lost even in the event of termination of marriage, regardless of the reasons for which it is terminated. Perhaps, one single exception can be make it only for the case of recognition of the marriage as invalid, but such cases are very rare.0005
Now let's try to consider by examples what the opinion expressed by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation will lead to:

Case No. 1 (the most common):
A mother who has a child gets married. The child has a father and he does not want to know the new dad (stepfather). Especially if the child is already 15-17 years old. And at the age of 18, at the first opportunity, he stops any communication with him.

My stepfather has no relatives except his wife. The wife is dying. Having fought for the inheritance, the stepson (stepdaughter), becoming even greater enemies with the stepfather and cursing him, they forget about him.

Some time later, the stepfather dies. There are no relatives. And then the stepson (stepdaughter) appears and receives all his property according to the law, as the heir to the seventh line.

Fair? Not really. But that is the law. And this was confirmed in their opinions by the RF Armed Forces.
Case No. 2 (no less common):
A mother who has a child gets married. The child considers his stepfather to be his father, because he has never seen his own father and never will. Becomes an adult, continues to communicate with his stepfather, even learning that he is not his own father.

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