Until a child reaches adulthood or gains independence through emancipation, their parents are responsible for ensuring that their needs are met and their care is adequately provided. These requirements survive divorce, separation, and other life events that may force parents to live separately and terminate their relationships as couples. After parents split up they may form new relationships, enter into new marriages, and set new plans for their futures that include fostering the growth of their children.
Blended families are common throughout North Carolina. Parents marry other individuals who have kids and new step-relationships are created through those unions. A stepparent is a person who has married someone who has their own kids. A stepchild, then, is the legal child of a person who marries someone who is not the child's legal parent.