August Learn how and when to remove this template message Although historically stepfamilies are built through the institution of marriage and are legally recognized, it is currently unclear if a stepfamily can be both established and recognized by less formal arrangements, such as when a man or woman with children cohabits with another man or woman outside of marriage. One way in which this gap is being filled is through the current implementation of Healthy Marriage Demonstration Grants  in the U. Canada[ edit ] In Canada, one needs to put into writing what the child's circumstances are for being adopted. Still, it is not at all clear what formal parenting roles, rights, responsibilities and social etiquette should exist between "stepparents" and their "stepchildren. These relationships can be extremely complex, especially in circumstances where each "stepspouse" may bring children of their own to the home or in households where children are expected to actively participate in each of the newly created families of both birth parents. You may improve this article , discuss the issue on the talk page , or create a new article , as appropriate. Local laws to complete a stepparent adoption vary. As part of the Deficit Reduction Act of , grants for healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood, which include at-risk and diverse populations such as stepfamilies, are providing important information on the evaluation of stepfamily programs and their effectiveness in servicing stepfamilies. In research[ edit ] In her book, Becoming a Stepfamily, Patricia Papernow suggests that each stepfamily goes through seven distinct stages of development, which can be divided into the Early, Middle, and Late stages. They found that when the data is balanced, the biological parents have a much higher rate of abuse than the stepparents do. There is little research in the field of parental abuse by children in concern with stepchildren abusing stepparents. However, in modern Western culture it is often unclear as to what, if any, social status and protection they enjoy in law. Grounds for abandonment in most states is no contact between the parent and child for at least one year. If the child is an indigenous person, then the family must specify their plan to keep the child involved in their culture. The tasks of this stage are to confront differences in each member's perception of the new family, as well as to influence one another before shaming or blaming begins to take action to reorganize the family structure. Words such as stepbrother, stepniece and stepparent appeared much later and do not have any particular connotation of bereavement.