After a divorce, a lot of people find it only natural to look for new partners. When you’re a divorced parent of a minor child, however, a new relationship can complicate your custody issues – particularly if your new partner moves in with you.
Here are three things you need to keep in mind:
1. You need to look at your parenting plan to see if the issue is addressed.
Parents sometimes include provisions in their parenting plans with just this sort of situation in mind. Your parenting plan may have clauses that dictate when and how a new partner can be introduced to your children. Do not trust your memory on this; look it up so that you know what steps you need to follow.
2. Your co-parent may feel threatened by your new partner’s presence.
It’s not unusual for a parent to have some strong emotions about their ex-spouse’s new romantic partner when it comes time for that partner to start interacting with their child. They may even feel like their relationship is threatened. That can inflame any pre-existing conflicts and create new ones. Consider talking through the issue with your ex before you introduce your new partner to the children. Be willing to agree to some boundaries and reassure your co-parent that they will not be “replaced” in the children’s minds.
3. Remember that the best interests of the child always control custody.
You have to be cautious about who you let into your child’s life. If your new partner has a problem with drugs or alcohol, if they’re prone to violence or if they have a criminal record, you may end up facing a new custody battle. The court always prioritizes the best interests of the child, and if your new partner is a threat to their well-being, that could be a big issue.
If a custody issue does develop after you introduce a new partner to your child, it’s always wise to get legal guidance on the situation.