What are Reconstituted Families?


There are often breaks in families. This can be because of a divorce, separation or the death of a partner. Reconstituted families are formed when two families join together after one or both partners have had a previous break. This family type can sometimes be referred to as a blended family or a step family. With an increase in divorce rates, it is a family type that is on the rise. But is it anything new?

It’s nothing new!

The increase in divorce rates means that this family type is more common. But it is not entirely new. Some of the earliest recorded histories show that remarriage was an option for some, but not everyone. In the past, remarriage could only happen when the previous partner died. Some societies gave remarriage the same status as first marriages, whilst other societies gave it less. Before divorce became legal, reconstituted families commonly occurred only as a result of the death of one of the partners, and not because of divorce. 

Different types of Reconstituted Families

In some societies reconstituted families are taken further. This can be because of polyamory.  Polyamory is the practice of having different partners at the same time and this can lead to a wider family structure. This means various children are connected by a common parent, usually the father. 

Reconstituted families are also present in societies where the community is based on a family structure. For example, children might be brought up by aunts and uncles and not by their own parents. These family types can also be called extended families.

Even when people are not related through blood, in some societies people can join a family symbolically. This means they are integrated into the family structure. This might be if they are close friends. 

Other Factors

In some societies, reconstituted families are not common. This can be because divorce is prohibited in those societies, or remarriage after the death of the previous partner is not allowed. 

The rise in migration has also meant that some families become separated. As a result, new families are formed from the union of the separated people to different partners. These families do not necessarily involve the divorce of the previous marriage.

These days, there are also less marriages worldwide. Family structures are more flexible as a result. Without the formal restrictions of marriage, people can separate and couple with greater freedom. 

There are some critics of reconstituted marriages. They argue that this family type does not provide a stable basis for bringing up children. They worry about the effect that such changes in family structure can have on the children.


The rise of reconstituted families signals a greater freedom in and diversity of family life. However, some critics worry that such flexibility does not provide a stable basis for bringing up children. The social rules surrounding remarriage or recoupling can vary from society to society. Nevertheless, reconstituted families can be found in societies around the planet.



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