Resources from Home Ownership: When is the right time?

More than 160 participants joined the May 8 session of Home Ownership: When is the right time? presented by Certified Housing Counselor and N.C. Cooperative Extension Agent Jayne McBurney and Dr. Carolyn Bird, Military Families Learning Network’s Personal Finance Concentration area principal investigator and N.C. State University associate professor. Our presenters, and participants, shared a number of great resources related to the home buying process. Here are some that were captured.

If you’d like to share a resource not listed here, please do so in the comments section below this post.

Author: Molly C. Herndon (@MollyCHerndon)

Working with “Complex” Families

Imagine this scenario:

Dad is divorced and has custody of his two young daughters.  Recently, he remarried, and last week he was deployed. His second wife and new stepmom receives a call.   The youngest daughter, who is 8 years old, has been injured at school.  The school nurse needs consent for medical treatment.  Oops!  Stepmom doesn’t know what to do, or what her legal rights are.

Step Family
Step Family

For stepparents, this is an altogether too common and sometimes frightening situation.  Deployment often means that the stepparent has to take on a new role as both the mom and the dad, and must assume new responsibilities and tasks with little or no preparation.  For stepfamilies, deployment can be particularly challenging because of the murkiness that often exists for who has legal authority.

Did you know that in most cases, stepparents have no legal authority when it comes to making decisions or even getting information about their stepchildren’s education, benefits programs, medical treatment or health care?

Dr. Francesca Adler-Baeder, Director of the Center for Children, Youth, and Families at Auburn, is the Stepfamily Association of America and oversees the activities of the National Stepfamily Resource Center, a division of Auburn University’s Center for Children, Youth, and Families.

In this short video clip, Adler-Baeder offers suggestions for working with stepfamilies serving in the military and briefly introduces a new set of learning modules geared to stepfamilies (soon to be available through the National Stepfamily Resource Center).

What tips would you give to Military Family Resource Providers?

Yes, stepfamilies face many challenges.  But Adler-Baeder offers reassurance to those working with “complex families” like stepfamilies in which the custodial parents are deployed.  She says that military families are strong and resilient, that by definition military families are service-oriented, and that family members have a “similar service-heart.”

See Adler-Baeder respond to the question, “What makes military families strong and resilient?” in this short interview at the 2011 National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) Conference


Here are some of the issues that stepfamilies about to be deployed need to discuss.  Those working with these complex families can facilitate these discussions and help both stepparents and custodial parents feel more secure and less stressed when the time comes to assume new roles and new responsibilities.

Issues to discuss:

  • How will the stepparent be able to facilitate contact between the child and the deployed parent?
  • If the stepparent is married to a noncustodial parent, will the stepparent be allowed to have regular access to the child?
  • If the stepparent is married to a custodial parent, what will happen if the noncustodial parent wants custody during the deployed parent’s absence?
  • Will the deployment affect child support payments?
  • Will the stepparent need to move the child to a different location, enroll the child in school, negotiate with the school about the stepchild’s special needs, enroll the child in benefit programs, consent to medical care, enroll the child in daycare, summer camps, sports activities or other special programs, or insure the child’s participation in religious training or programs?
  • If the stepparent will need to travel abroad with the child, is the child’s passport in order and are there any special permissions that will be needed?
  • Are there any pending legal actions involving the child?
  • Are there financial arrangements that need to be made with regard to the child, involving matters such as tuition payments, health insurance payments, support, or property?