The decision made by a couple to part ways is probably one of the hardest decisions a couple will ever make. When parting ways means that you will have to share children, the stakes are higher, the issue intensifies, and the decision is made that much harder.
Among the many concerns of a newly separated or soon to be divorced parent is the following “ What can I do to prevent the other parent from introducing his/her new partner to the children” or “When am I allowed to have my children meet my new significant other?”
The answer to this question typically is that as a parent, you are allowed to bring your children around your new partner without permission from a Judge or the other parent, unless there is an agreement or court order stating otherwise. The reason for this is that when a parent is awarded custody, they are typically able to decide who the children can interact with.
However, this does not mean that there aren’t any steps you can take to facilitate the often-difficult process of having your children meet your or the other parent’s new partner. Below are a few things you can do in your case if this concern arises:
- Have an agreement dictate when and how a parent’s new partner will be introduced to the children.
California law allows you to enter into a written agreement with the other parent which outlines how and when your children will meet any new significant others. For example, you can agree that you will each notify one another within a certain amount of days before introducing the children to the new significant other. Or you can agree that a parent will wait until they have dated their new partner for a certain amount of time before introducing the children to the new partner. Most terms, as long as agreed upon in writing by parents, will be adopted and processed by a court and made into a Court order.
- Discuss the issue informally with your ex-partner and make that decision together as the issue arises.
If you and your ex-partner do not have an agreement in writing as to how and when your children will meet any new significant others, the courts frequently encourage parents to maintain the lines of communication open regarding any and all issues that pertain to the children. Although legally, unless there is a written agreement or court order stating otherwise, you are not obligated to discuss this issue with your ex-partner, you have a right to reach out to the other parent and try to see what is best for your children at that point in time. This type of discussion can be done in person, over the phone, or in writing.
- Obtain a court order.
If you are and your ex-partner are unable to reach an agreement, either verbally or in writing, and you are still concerned about your children meeting any new significant others, you have a right to file a motion with the Superior Court of California, Family Law Division. The motion is called a Request for Order and the motion would request for the court to make orders relating to the children being around the other parents significant other or any order you may see as appropriate in your case. If, for example, your child is in therapy and is already having a difficult time with the divorce or separation and the therapist has advised against the child being brought around a significant other at that point in time, this can be communicated to a Judge in support of your request. The Judge will then make the decision as to what conditions, if any, will be in place before a child being exposed or introduced to a new significant other. When making this decision, the Court will have to look at what is in the best interest of the child at that point in time. This decision will be made by looking at any evidence presented by either side, reading the declaration in support of the motion and possibly even hearing testimony from witnesses or the party’s themselves. However, it is important to note that before seeking court intervention for this, you should have a valid reason for not wanting your child to meet this new person. It shouldn’t be just because you don’t want it to happen.
Separation between two people is difficult. But there are ways to make the transition for you and children a lot easier and we are here to help. If you have any questions or wish to discuss this issue further, please contact our office for a free consultation.
By: Gisela Acevedo, Esq. Attorney at Contreras Law Firm