Introducing New Partners

With Valentine’s Day just behind us, this is the love issue. Separated or divorced parents fall in love again and find themselves in new relationships. What would the Court think? Any do’s or don’ts?

This is a frequent topic of interest during a family law file. Of course, humans heal from break ups and most fall in love again. We’re always happy for them but definitely have some words of caution pertaining to their separation or divorce. Always use good judgment! What is good judgment? Will letting your ex know you have your groove back cause conflict? Will the news delay settlement negotiations? Will your children feel threatened by the new love interest? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, keep your news a secret. Don’t flaunt it and don’t involve your new flame in the proceedings!

Not everything has to be broadcasted on social media. Most judges frown upon a parent introducing a new flame to the children too early in the separation or too early in the romance. The children are already having to deal with the separation of their parents; their new normal, new life, new schedule. Adding another curve ball to their lives could be very upsetting or unsettling. Think of how they will feel.

It is not “illegal” to move on quickly and involve your children but a Court could find that the decision to do so, while involving children, lacks good parental judgment. Courts are looking for evidence that the parents are good role models and encourage parents to be such. Acting recklessly and causing harm by introducing children to a new relationship after relationship could harm your claim for primary care. Remember you’re being judged!

Once you are sure that the relationship is right, and not just “right now”, and has permanence, and the new flame is good for your children to be around and spend time with, then handle the introduction with care and in a way that you know will be okay for your children. You know your children! What would work and what wouldn’t? Put them first and their concerns or fears and make the new dynamic easier for them to handle. Judges know that life goes on and you are human! New relationships will form and some will fail while others will last. The key focus is how did you shield your children from the ones that didn’t last; what lessons are your actions teaching your children? Are you working very hard to keep their precious lives stable, safe and secure while maintaining consistency and routine in their schedules?

Just do your best but use good judgment. Ask for guidance if you need it.

All for now,

Jennifer Donovan