Modern Divorce - The Do-Over For A Better You

The Myth of the Wicked Stepmom

September 28, 2023 Attorney Billie Tarascio
The Myth of the Wicked Stepmom
Modern Divorce - The Do-Over For A Better You
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Modern Divorce - The Do-Over For A Better You
The Myth of the Wicked Stepmom
Sep 28, 2023
Attorney Billie Tarascio

Cinderella's wicked stepmom may have set the mold for the concept of bad step parents, but the reality is, once a mom and dad are divorced and repartnered with a new step parent, it's possible to work out the daily issues once everyone understands how to stay in their own lane. But do they?

In today's Modern Divorce Podcast, host Billie Tarascio joins her mom Nancy Conrad to discuss the daily push and pull of step parents after divorce, and to identify when to get help from an attorney when things get bad. It's all about YOUR questions that have come in on the Modern Divorce Facebook group, and on TikTok from frustrated moms and dads wondering how the heck to manage that step parent that they didn't choose, and maybe didn't want.

To jump in on the discussion, join the Modern Divorce Facebook group where you'll be able to share, cry, moan and ask any questions that have to do with your divorce, and we'll do our best to answer them!

Show Notes Transcript

Cinderella's wicked stepmom may have set the mold for the concept of bad step parents, but the reality is, once a mom and dad are divorced and repartnered with a new step parent, it's possible to work out the daily issues once everyone understands how to stay in their own lane. But do they?

In today's Modern Divorce Podcast, host Billie Tarascio joins her mom Nancy Conrad to discuss the daily push and pull of step parents after divorce, and to identify when to get help from an attorney when things get bad. It's all about YOUR questions that have come in on the Modern Divorce Facebook group, and on TikTok from frustrated moms and dads wondering how the heck to manage that step parent that they didn't choose, and maybe didn't want.

To jump in on the discussion, join the Modern Divorce Facebook group where you'll be able to share, cry, moan and ask any questions that have to do with your divorce, and we'll do our best to answer them!

Announcer: [00:00:00] We hope you enjoy this episode of the Modern Divorce podcast, but first, a message from our sponsor. 

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com forward slash modern. Hello, this is Billie Tarascio with the Modern Divorce podcast. Welcome back to another episode and today I am joined by one of my favorite humans in the whole wide world. My mom, Nancy Conrad. And Nancy has joined us on a few of these podcast episodes to do a deep dive into so [00:01:00] much of the conversation that is happening online.

Nancy Conrad: Yeah, you're getting so much. And so I have been looking at the questions coming in and it's hard to answer all of them. So this was one of the reasons to come at this and answer extra ones. And we start to see themes coming in. So, let's talk about one of the later themes that was developing in Bits and Pieces and that was what happens in blended families to the financial side of the picture and it's not always something you deal with in, in the divorce, but it could be something that people can deal with, with maybe a prenup or maybe some good planning or the parenting plan.

Billie Tarascio: Yes. Okay. So there's so much to talk about here. Um. Um, second marriages are more likely to end in divorce than first marriages, so the way that you treat your finances in the second marriage is at least as important, if not more important than it was in your first marriage. Now if you've [00:02:00] already gone through a divorce, you already know how financially devastating A divorce is so when you're in your second marriage and you are figuring out How are we going to combine resources?

Usually that means two things time labor at home and money 

Nancy Conrad: Okay, and and that is one of the things that really bothers people when they have Child support payments coming up and like here was a question Let me get to this one. Okay, this one came up. This, this particular person who is anonymous says, I believe I can prove my ex underreported his income at our last modification.

He says he gets paid 22, 000, which is not a lot, before taxes. He's getting paid from his best friend who's a bar manager. Uh, this person says the average bar manager makes, you know, 40, 000 to 50, 000. So obviously he's, he's listing about half of that. Um, What can a person do [00:03:00] about that? I mean, how, how do you get down to the, the bottom line and prove that somebody's making more money than they really are claiming?

Billie Tarascio: There's a couple ways you can do this. You can either... prove their actual income by looking at bank statements, looking at their expenses. You know, you can reverse engineer income. If you figure out how many, how much somebody is spending each month and you add another 30 percent for taxes, that's one way to get income.

The other thing you can do is you can do a vocational assessment on a particular individual and have an expert report that says this is this person's earning capacity. And then it doesn't matter what they're actually making, really. they can be attributed what their earning capacity is. 

Nancy Conrad: So you're saying that if this person who's the bar manager making under what a bar manager would make, you would go to the court and say, this is the average that a bar manager makes in our state, so therefore he is, it is assumed that that's how much he would be making.

Billie Tarascio: Sometimes it makes sense [00:04:00] to make an argument that someone is underemployed. So if she believes that he is, let's say, working for his uncle, and artificially getting paid less than he should be because he doesn't want to pay child support. That would be a good time to maybe explore a vocational assessment.

Nancy Conrad: Very interesting. This also came up in another question where a man asked, My ex wife is now married, had another baby with her new husband. Now she wants to be a stay at home mom and say that she's not making as much money. That didn't feel too fair to him. 

Billie Tarascio: No, that was a very controversial one. So, we took a look at the Child Support Guidelines, and the Child Support Guidelines very clearly said that sometimes you don't attribute income if somebody is staying home with a very young child in common to the parties.

So if somebody's staying home with a very young child who's not in common to the parties, you would still be attributed your earning capacity. 

Nancy Conrad: Okay. So they, and I, I know you can put this [00:05:00] into a calculator, right? You have a calculator on MyModernLaw. com, don't you, that will help? We do. Okay. And, and. Well, other states will usually have calculators as well if you're not in Arizona.

Okay. So you've been getting a lot of questions about, um, some of the financial parts of it. So this person asked about the wills and this is in, this was not, um, something that you'd already answered is wills with imbalance, blended families. So this person says, I'm married in a blended family. They're two daughters.

Who I have 50 50 care with, their mother, and my wife has five daughters, four with their father, who isn't in the picture. And the girls are aged between 12 and 22. So he would like to treat the children equally, despite what my stepchildren would say otherwise. So if I die, you know, and he has more kids, or she has more kids, how do you, what do you do in that kind of situation?[00:06:00] 

Billie Tarascio: Well, each person needs to decide how they want to handle that. In my opinion, if you've got kids that are minors, and you are, unless the other parent is financially independent enough to take care of your children well, to the level that you'd like them to be taken care of, without your support, I think you should consider life insurance.

That's a great idea. Um, but in terms of inheritance... That's really a conversation for each individual to have with their estate planning attorney. And or the couple to have with one another and their estate planning attorney. But you and your spouse don't necessarily have to be on the same page, especially if it's a blended family and you have assets from prior to marriage.

Those remain separate assets and you get to bequest them as you see fit. So 

Nancy Conrad: that would particularly come up when kids are grown and there's a late in life divorce and a remarriage. I have a neighbor [00:07:00] who just, who's in his 70s and he just got married like 10, 12 years ago with grown kids. So they would probably have to go see a financial planner or CPA or, or estate planner, I guess, to, to settle out how you would split things up with the kiddos.

And having that. That life insurance policy could kind of take care of that gap because you don't want unhappy children. Or maybe if you don't care. 

Billie Tarascio: Right, right, right. It's such a touchy subject. You know, what do you want to leave to your children after you pass? It's really a very individual decision. It really is.

But you need to talk to a estate planning lawyer and get a trust or a will set up to take care of that. 

Nancy Conrad: The other thing that's going to come up too is if you are a younger parent with kids at home. and you get remarried, you want to think about, and I don't know if this comes up in your office much, what happens if you die?

Who's going to watch the kids? I mean, if bio mom is married to a guy that, you know, you're the dad and you think he's [00:08:00] horrid, can you dial in your, your parents somehow, um, to have visitation or, I don't know, how does that work? 

Billie Tarascio: If one parent dies? 

Nancy Conrad: Yeah, does bio mom get all of the rights or can a person who's died convey some of his parental duties to his parents or a sister or brother?


Billie Tarascio: see what you're saying. So in this example, mom and dad have equal parenting time, dad dies, and dad wants... His 50 percent of the time to be allocated to his wife or his parents or whatnot. No, you can't do that. Oh, so the children would be in the primary custody of their biological and legal parents, but Anyone else, grandparents could file for grandparents rights, a stepparent could file for in loco parentis visitation rights and maintain a relationship, but their rights are never going to be equal to or trump a legal biological parent.

Nancy Conrad: I think that was, um, one of the questions that I [00:09:00] saw here too, where somebody had asked about how, you know, a widowed stepparent's rights. What kind of rights could a stepparent get if the bioparent... 

Billie Tarascio: I'm glad that you brought that up because I just said that a step parent's rights are never going to trump a biological parent's rights, and that's not correct.

That's correct when you have two good, involved legal and biological parents. But we had a case in our firm not that long ago where the father and his wife had been the primary custodians of the children here in Arizona. Mom lived back in Illinois. and didn't have a good relationship with the children, maybe wasn't stable, um, had lost the kids at some point to dad's custody, and the children did not want to go to Illinois when their dad died of COVID.

So they were teenagers, they did not want to go back to Illinois, and the stepmother was able to get emergency jurisdiction and full custody under Arizona's third party custody rights. Wow. So, depending on your [00:10:00] situation, you may end up being that guardian. 

Nancy Conrad: That would be very interesting. And that kind of gets into, you know, like the, the idea that the, the step parent is the wicked step parent, you know, that's been in stories for a long time.

Cinderella had lived with her stepmother, right? And was given all the chores and all of that. And it's not always like that, obviously. No, it's not always like that. Um, one of the things that, I was thinking about too is when we were talking about, um, kids getting split up or you know, you lose a parent or whatever, your great grandmother was four years old when her, her mom died along with another child.

This was the Spanish Influenza in 1918. And not unlike COVID, you know, people were dying at a really young age and it really got the, um, the young adults. I think we're hit hard. [00:11:00] Um, but anyway, she went to go live with an aunt and their kids and she ended up getting married at 16 and having her grandmother.

So, you know, going right into making a new family for herself. But So that means that your great great grandfather went off, started another marriage, and another family, and then there were a whole bunch of siblings. So even, you know, that long ago would have been like a hundred years ago now. Wow. That was not uncommon, so.

And that seems to be the thing that comes up a lot, um, are step parent questions in the group. The Modern Law Divorce Group, and you get a lot of messages and TikToks. Um, so one of them was, I want to make sure I've got that, this one was really interesting and it, it's a personal question, not a legal one.

What about stepmom and dad forcing children [00:12:00] to call stepmom mom so their child together doesn't call her by her first name? Yes. What do you do with that? So the bio mom wants to interfere with the way stepmom's being called. 

Billie Tarascio: Yeah. Yeah. So this, um. I've talked about this quite a few times, it always gets a lot of interaction, people have a lot of very strong feelings about this, one way or the other.

You know, people who are stepmoms usually, who feel like they've earned the title. Um, get very heated when they're told they shouldn't be called mom. And, uh, then dad and stepmom can also feel like, who are you to tell us how to run our house? So that's, that's the argument for, you know, you don't get to be involved.

We can do things however we want to. But the family court does have a position on this. And the family court's position is that that's not okay. And so it's very common to have [00:13:00] parenting plans that say titles such as mom, dad, papa. Mama, Mommy, Daddy, anything close to that is reserved for the biological parents.

Really? It's very common. So, it's, it's in my world, in my culture, in the family court, it's pretty much universally viewed as harmful and inappropriate. 

Nancy Conrad: To call the step parent a mom or a... Huh. Okay, so what are the options then? Just the first name, which... 

Billie Tarascio: Yeah, you can call them, you know, any type of name you all want to come up with, but, uh, The point is that your mom and your dad are not just replaceable.

They're not just interchangeable with dad's new girlfriend, or mom's new boyfriend, or husband, and in my opinion, it's just incredibly disrespectful to the children to tell them they have to call Somebody mom or [00:14:00] dad who isn't their mom or dad is really bad and it's also incredibly inappropriate and disrespectful to the actual parents.

Now every case is different so sometimes you have cases where the biological parent is not in the picture and somebody else really is standing in for mom or dad and in that case it might be that both the the non biological parent and the child are very attached to the role that the non biological parent is playing and the name.

And in that case, you know, you can certainly see why people would feel strongly that they shouldn't be told that they can't have that bond. Yeah. 

Nancy Conrad: It's complicated. It really is complicated. And that sort of brings the kid into it as well, because you can't always go running off to the court. No. To go take care of these things.

I mean that in itself probably wouldn't... Garner the interest or the money to go into court and 

Billie Tarascio: try to fix. Right. I totally agree with you. If somebody came to me and said, Hey, You know, my ex [00:15:00] is doing this, my answer would not be let's file a motion and hold them in contempt, probably. But if, if that is among many contempts, then yeah, we're gonna put it in there.

If your court order says you can't do this and you're doing it and there's a bunch of other contempts, then we will bring 

Nancy Conrad: it up. I guess that gets down to why that parenting plan is so critical. Um, and you've probably seen all kinds of parenting plans. Do they... Does it ever deal with, well one of the questions that's come up a lot is, um, uh, school stuff.

Like what happens when the stepmom goes with the dad, the bio dad, over to school to have a meeting with the teacher? How involved does the step parent get? That can really ruffle the feathers of a bio mom. It 

Billie Tarascio: really can. It really, really can. And, um, I think this comes down to... Probably insecurity because, um, all I can, all I can do is relate this to my own [00:16:00] personal situation.

My children have a step mom. She is... It's wonderful to my children, they love her very much. I don't want them to call her mom, but she volunteers in the school, she'll have lunch with my daughter, she's a nurse so she was helping out with the visual and hearing screenings. I don't want to do that, I mean, like, I think it's wonderful that she wants to do that and that she has a great relationship with my kids and I'm not, that I don't feel threatened.

And by her having a wonderful, positive role, at the same time, I'm a mom who's always been a working mom, who's always relied on nannies and wonderful people, teachers, to be invested and involved in my kids. And I just think that that makes our family stronger. I don't think that takes away from my children or my relationship 

Nancy Conrad: with my children.

Yeah. That whole team mentality, I think, um, is really helpful. So, I mean, I suppose sometimes if you have different ideas, or dad and mom have different ideas, and the [00:17:00] stepmom is supporting her husband's ideas, and your partner may be helping to support your ideas, and the school has to deal with the stepparents.

Um, there's paperwork and so on, too. What kinds of things need to be at the school to help the school navigate who they are okay to talk with? 

Billie Tarascio: Yeah, so What's the lane? That's the question. What's the lane? Stay in your lane, but what is it? What are the, what are the boundaries? And I think, generally speaking, step parents should not attempt to override parents.

I think, best I can tell after thinking about this for a long, long time, uh, you just, you get to support. Don't get to override the biological parent on your side, and that's it. You don't get to override the biological parent, whether it be mom or dad, on major issues, or really any issues. Your job really is [00:18:00] to...

Support the kids and support the biological parents. I think that's the best I can do. What do you think? What are the, what's off limits? Yeah, 

Nancy Conrad: no, I think so. Um, it, well, communication can help soothe a lot of that stuff. It's not always possible because there's just sometimes too much, uh, going on, um, of disagreement and so on.

Um, but there was another question where somebody was saying they didn't want... , their kids being okay. Here it is. This one was a little tricky. Um, can my daughter's father legally do anything? about who my daughter is being driven around by. My fiancé received a DUI three years ago. Yesterday at an exchange, uh, uh, baby daddy said, I don't want him driving my child around and that's that.

Then takes it, okay, so, you know, and then there's more, this kind of all blew up. So, what, what do you do with that? Okay, there's a ding on the, the record of the [00:19:00] new boyfriend. Yeah, 

Billie Tarascio: it's not your call. It's not dad's call. It is bio mom's call during her parenting time who drives around her children. Now, do you have a right to be concerned?

Yes. Let's say instead you find out that mom's boyfriend is an alcoholic driving around your children. You absolutely need to get involved. You need to call the police, you need to file for a modification, you need to talk to mom about it. But it really depends on what is actually going on, and this is why I feel, this is why the discussion is so important, is because most people living this day to day don't know what is the line.

When am I allowed to say something? Yeah. I'm always this person's parent. When do I stop? When do I set boundaries if I'm really concerned about safety? That's why we talk about these things, so that you don't have to pay 400 an hour to talk to a lawyer about it, and we can talk about it. 

Nancy Conrad: This, the safety issue has come up before.

Um, you know, the, the new boyfriend [00:20:00] or, or, step parent is doing something that, um, the biological parent says, I don't think this is okay, even though it might not technically be illegal. You kind of have to keep your eyeballs on it, don't you? It's 

Billie Tarascio: so hard. It's so hard to navigate these situations. So, I can sit here and, you know, give all the answers, but we're, we are lying if we think for a minute that this is 

Nancy Conrad: easy.

Yeah. Well, and that's probably the reason why you get so many questions. And it's, it's really hard for people going through divorce. Um, it's just top of mind all the time. People get really angry. There's always, there's probably way more sharing than people might need to, but I understand there's, you, you need to get it off your chest, and it's great to have this, this support group where people can share this information, and there's been long discussions in here, people going back and forth, um, helping each other out on the non legal [00:21:00] things.

Billie Tarascio: I am so proud of the Modern Divorce support groups. Yeah. We started this Facebook support group as a law firm, Maybe a year and a half ago, just as a place for people to have community because there's so much happening, right? There's so much happening and you don't always want to have to go talk to your lawyer.

And you want to be able to build friend networks, and it is now close to 10, 000 people, and you're right, we get to watch people really pour out their heart and get support and talk through things, and I'm also so proud of the feedback that I see people giving one another, because it's usually really valuable.

Nancy Conrad: Yeah. Yeah, really is. So that's kind of where this is the, that, that edge where people are standing, where they're, they're trying to decide, do I need to go see an attorney or can I work this out? That's really a critical area because I think divorce parents spend a lot of time on that. 

Billie Tarascio: I, I agree with you.

I mean, as a divorced parent [00:22:00] who is a divorce attorney, I still spend a lot of time thinking and talking about my own issues with my own children because 

Nancy Conrad: that's life. Right. And there was something that you had talked about too in one of the videos that you'd put together and you were reminiscing and I'd kind of forgotten about this.

Your youngest was two years old. That's in, in a, that's... That's the youngest of four, and so you've got, you know, so many years of having to deal with it, and you've already dealt with it for so many years. Some things have been kind of settled out, but as you say, stuff comes 

Billie Tarascio: up. Right. Yeah, Julia was two when her dad and I separated.

Her oldest brother was twelve. He's now eighteen. You know, she's now eight. It goes so fast. It goes fast. It also brings up the question of, at what age is this better to do it if you're gonna do it? Um, which is always an interesting question. You know, on one hand, at two, in my family, in my personal experience, [00:23:00] I was the primary caretaker to our babies.

Even though my ex husband was very involved, and very capable, and we were both working. That's just how... How babies were in my experience. So to lose her half of the time at two was hard. That is just gut wrenching. It was hard. It was hard for her. It was hard for me. I'm sure it was hard for my ex, but in some ways it was probably easier for her to adjust to two houses than her 12 and 10 year old brother.

Nancy Conrad: And that, that is something also that's come up. So the parents who are coming into the group and saying, you know, I have a very young child. Hmm. This is a critical time where you're going through that. It's a separation that you go through. It's awful. Awful. But you know, you have to do everything you can to make it work.

Billie Tarascio: Right. You have to do everything you can to make it work. One of the things that I think we did well is we got our kids in play therapy, [00:24:00] and I remember talking to Julia's I was play therapist at the time and Julie was playing house and she was working through like her mom not being there and as heart rate, heartbreaking as that is to like know about it was what she needed to do to process her new 

Nancy Conrad: reality.

Yeah, and they're all, they all seem very well adjusted now. It's been 

Billie Tarascio: some time. It's been some time and everybody is okay. You know, nobody is not getting their needs met. 

Nancy Conrad: So here's another question that comes up to a lot. Item sharing. Kids transferring clothes, personal items, backpacks, to and from each house.

You know, you have some stuff at dad's house and some stuff at mom's house. So that means you're kind of buying more. Yeah. Than you had before. Right. Or there's certain clothes that are only at your house and certain clothes only at his house. Sometimes there's crossover or where's my such and such or I want my favorite shoes.

Billie Tarascio: Right. I think that that's just [00:25:00] real and inevitable. Um, you, you absolutely best case scenario, wanna have everything your children need at each house. But I've noticed, especially as my kids are older, with the younger kids, they don't care as much. They'll open their dresser, they'll put on whatever clothes they have, they have comfy clothes at both houses.

They're fine. Um, and we don't have like, my clothes, your clothes, everything is, goes back and forth. It goes back and forth. And that works for us. Um, But my teenagers, they have their favorite things. Yep. So one of the things that I've noticed is that with the younger kids, it doesn't really matter as much on clothes or shoes.

They've got enough of what they need at both houses to be fine. Although the things they might forget might be backpacks or school folders, and you can't really duplicate those. Um, and then with the older kids, they've got their favorite stuff. And they, when we switch on weeks, want to always stop by the house to get something.

Or, you know, pick up and drop off certain things. Or [00:26:00] there's uniforms. Uniforms will happen. And then they will get forgotten. So here is the thing that I want to encourage. The way that I've come to think about this is it is absolutely inevitable that your kids are going to forget things and they're not going to have what they need.

And, in my opinion, this is a cross that should be on the parents to bear. We as parents don't have to pack up our stuff and make sure we have everything we need every other week at both houses. So I think mentally, if you can just understand that you've, we've did this. We put them in this situation where they have to remember all their stuff, which is impossible.

And so, it's gonna mean driving back and forth. And don't, don't shame them, don't blame them, just get in the car and make it happen. 

Nancy Conrad: That's like the one that came up where you had, um, duetted something where a lady was not bringing her six year old's lunch to school. She was making the six year old make her own lunch, um, which actually my [00:27:00] mom made me do.

Did she? And I failed at that. 

Billie Tarascio: And if you forgot it, what happened? 

Nancy Conrad: I would have to get school lunch, which I ended up doing after all because... Um, I was six. At least you had school lunch. At least I had school lunch. And some kids don't, I mean, that was really kind of cruel. I think so. I 

Billie Tarascio: six years old. Like, I think it's our job to set our kids up for success.

Nancy Conrad: So, and it gets back to the, if you forgot your shoes for soccer or something like that, that's critical. You've got to have the right shoes and if they're at the wrong house, what are you going to do? You've got to get them. Right, 

Billie Tarascio: and so we can, I think... We do want to do our best to cut down on the driving back and forth and the forgetting, but we make a mistake if we try to put that entire responsibility on kids.

And instead, what are some other ways that we can come up with systems to not forget things? So maybe it's emailing the other parent to say, Hey, Can you please remember to put X, Y, and Z in so and so's backpack? That's gonna be really helpful. 

Nancy Conrad: Yeah, yeah, or it's [00:28:00] their turn to bring snacks that day or something like that.

It really, because they'll, the child will look bad if they don't bring the snacks that they were supposed to because mom and dad didn't communicate. 

Billie Tarascio: And this is another reason why you really want the step parents to be your allies. The more brains and support you have, The more your children can have, the better.

Nancy Conrad: Yeah, yeah. Here was another question that came up kind of along those lines, too. And that was, there was a parent who was in the Army, probably National Guard, and going out on occasional weekends. And on that weekend, kids were supposed to be with Dad. So, the bio mom was asking, should my kids go over to Dad's house?

When it's just the stepmom, and then furthermore, when they are there with the stepmom under any circumstances, do they have to listen to the mom, to the stepmom? Yeah. Um, so that was kind of a two part question, but... 

Billie Tarascio: Do your children need to listen to their stepparents? Yeah, 

Nancy Conrad: let's look 


Billie Tarascio: that. [00:29:00] Of course they do!

Do your children need to listen to their teachers? Do they need to listen to their coaches? Do they need to listen to their Sunday school teachers? Do they need to listen to their friend's mom when they're there after school? Come on! Talk about not setting your child up for success. Do not tell your children they don't have to listen to their stepparents.

You're just setting them up to get into massive amounts of trouble. and wreak havoc on that other person's house and you might feel like you're getting the upper hand or you're somehow going to win or the kids are now going to live with you and that is petty and it is immature and I can, I can understand if you might have these feelings.

Get into counseling, work through it because you're not helping your children. Okay. 

Nancy Conrad: And plus it is kind of teaching them to be disrespectful. I mean, you know, disrespectful to your elders kind of thing, um. [00:30:00] So, 

Billie Tarascio: obviously it is okay to teach your children. You don't have to listen to adults if they're asking you to do something dangerous, right?

But it's, I guess, if you wouldn't tell your children not to listen to their teacher, then you sure as heck shouldn't tell them not to listen to their step 

Nancy Conrad: parent. And then, um, the other part of that question, the legal part of it, is there any legality that deals with that? Except for maybe the parental alienation thing.

Where if you're telling the other person not to listen to the step parent that I don't know if you'd call that parental alienation It has come up before when the wife or the ex wife tells the kids not to listen to the dad 

Billie Tarascio: so Legally, I guess I'm not exactly sure I understand the question. 

Nancy Conrad: Well Legally if bio mom tells the kids don't listen to your stepmother because she has a personal issue and she don't like the person Or it's whatever Is there a legal problem with that, or is it just a, you're being a [00:31:00] bad mom by doing that?

Billie Tarascio: I mean, it's not illegal to tell your kids to go out and steal things. Right? But that's what you're doing. You're telling... So it is perfectly legal for a parent to say, So and so's in charge of you, listen to them. So in this case, it's dad's parenting time, and dad has said... I'm at work, you know, your stepmother is in charge, that is his legal right.

He has the legal authority to do that. To hire a babysitter or whatever. And so, it's not mom's, it's not mom's business or within mom's rights to interfere with dad's ability to make those choices. 

Nancy Conrad: Yeah. And then, and then let me close the loop on that one question that I posed earlier and that was National Guard dad goes out on those weekends when the kids were supposed to be there and the kids were going to go anyway.

The mom was asking, what do I do with 

Billie Tarascio: that? Yeah, do you need to send your kids for parenting time when the parent isn't available? [00:32:00] This is not a black and white, um, question. It certainly depends on your specific parenting plan. I would want to look at the specific parenting plan. Generally speaking, if a parent is unable to use their parenting time, you stay with the parent, the other parent.

Um, but if, if... this is normal or regular or they're siblings or for whatever reason you may still want to send them and you could end up with a court order that still sends the kids. This happens with pilots. It can happen with doctors. It can happen with people who have really wonky schedules where a court order is going to have specific parenting time and sometimes parents might have to work during that time and sometimes that work might be overnight.

And then the still, the kids still need to go. But it's definitely a case by case 

Nancy Conrad: basis. And is that the area where... You've talked before about having first right of refusal in the parenting plan. [00:33:00] So when something like that comes up, there is a method you've sort of set it up in advance, looking forward to those particular situations.

Billie Tarascio: Yes, I do like the right of first refusal. Only... When we're talking about like 24 hour periods or longer, when you have rights of first refusal in general, I think they're terrible. When you have them for anything under eight hours. Also, not a good idea in my opinion, but for long stretches of time when a parent's going to be out of town or unavailable It does make sense to put something like that in your 

Nancy Conrad: parenting plan.

Okay, because otherwise it might get in the way of let's say child is over at bio dad's house, bio mom doesn't like the bio dad is letting child spend the night at somebody's house. Right. Like those people are sketchy. Why is she 

Billie Tarascio: staying there? Right, right, right. And so it needs to be You need to think about how you write this right of first refusal.


Nancy Conrad: Really good questions, but we've probably covered a lot. [00:34:00] Let's, uh, we'll pick it up again on the, on a future one, but, um, 

Billie Tarascio: absolutely. So thank you so much for joining me for this episode of the Modern Divorce podcast. It's been a different one, but a fun one. And I really like that we're addressing.

Questions that people have. So keep sending in your questions. Keep letting us know what you want us to talk about and we'll dive deep. 

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