FAMILY LAW BLOG
Submitted by Courtney J. Marshall
Can I prevent my spouse or former spouse from introducing our children to his/her new girlfriend/boyfriend?
Whether you’re contemplating divorce, going through a divorce, or recently divorced, there is a way to deal with this question and the answer in most cases is yes.
If you’re contemplating divorce, but nothing has been filed yet, all you can do is hope to appeal to your spouse’s sense of parental responsibility and ask that s/he not confuse or harm the children by introducing them to your boyfriend/girlfriend. How traumatic would that be for a child, whose parents are still married, to be introduced to mom or dad’s boyfriend or girlfriend? Very. So just no. Don’t do it. As the parent asking, be firm on this request and ask them to do it FOR the kids, not for you. Offer that the prohibition be mutual, meaning that it applies to both of you. Likewise, if you’re already separated and living apart, you should include a request for no overnights with boyfriend/girlfriend during parenting time, and that includes sneaking the boyfriend/girlfriend in after the kids are asleep. Just save it for when the kids are with the other parent. If your spouse just will not agree, you may be left with no choice but to file for divorce so that you have a forum to ask for this relief to be ordered.
If you’re going through a divorce the situation is a little easier because if your spouse refuses to comply with your request, you have options through the court. If it’s happened already, or you believe about to happen, you can file a motion and ask the court to enter an order prohibiting your spouse from introducing your children to his/her boyfriend/girlfriend, or an order prohibiting your spouse from having the children around your boyfriend/girlfriend. Make sure that your request includes overnights, even if the boyfriend/girlfriend is coming after the kids are asleep and leaving before the kids are awake. In most cases, this is an all but guaranteed granted motion. I can hardly think of instances where the court would not grant this request. Remember, the order entered will likely be mutual. Additionally, if a judgment of divorce hasn’t been entered yet, you can include language in your judgment prohibiting your spouse from having a significant other around your children, including overnights as I’ve mentioned, and you can specify the length of time that the prohibition is in place. You can craft the language in a way the best suites your situation.
If you’re divorced, but your judgment doesn’t address this situation, you can file a motion asking the court to order it just was you would in the answer above.
Divorce is difficult enough for children. It’s sad, it’s confusing, and it’s hard for them to understand. Children are flooded with so many emotions, but they lack the knowledge, maturity or understanding to process through those emotions. There is virtually no reason I can think of to justify rushing to introduce your children to your new boyfriend/girlfriend. Even with the passage of time it can be very hard for kids to see their mom/dad with another man/woman. Think about your kids and their feelings.
If you have questions regarding this topic, give us a call at 866-yourrights or visit us on the web at yourrights.com.