Divorced Co-Parenting: When Your Kids Meet Your Ex’s New Partner
Many divorced co-parents come to their family law attorneys with the same concern: “My ex is allowing his/her new partner to be around our children. Can I restrict my child’s exposure to the new boyfriend or girlfriend? Do I have any legal recourse to stop this?”
The courts here in New Jersey have attempted to tackle this very sensitive issue in the past. In the DaVita case, there were definite restraints imposed on the exposure of children post-divorce to a parent’s significant other; specifically the court granted a mother’s request that her former spouse’s girlfriend be prohibited from spending the night during the father’s parenting time. But, that was in 1976, and times have changed.
After the DaVita case came Mantle v. Mantle where the court said it was likely that a majority of the community would no longer frown upon a dating partner discreetly spending the night during parenting time. Ultimately the family court ruled that the parents in the Mantle case may introduce their child to new dating partners after six months, and such partners may stay overnight after one year.
Of course, every family is different and the family courts are required to determine what is in the best interests of the children, above and beyond all else. As long as the parent has parenting time, your ex may generally decide who interacts the kids when in that parent’s care. This includes being able to decide to the new partner around during parenting time with the kids as long as there is no inappropriate behavior with the children. Courts attempt to strike a balance between a healthy pursuit of new relationships, the needs and best interests of the children and the negative emotions that can come with the introduction of a new relationship into the lives of children.
Perhaps divorced or separated spouses should look for the advice of a family therapist on how to best deal with the introduction of a new partner into the children’s lives with the least amount of friction, discomfort, angst and conflict possible.
If you are a separated parent and are concerned about your exes’ new partner in your child’s life or if you are looking for advice regarding your rights regarding your children interact with your new partner, please contact us today to schedule your initial consultation with one of our qualified attorneys experienced in parenting time and child custody matters here in New Jersey.
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