Suppose your parenting plan has been working fine—but now your ex-spouse has a significant other. How can you manage the interactions that your child has with this partner that you may never have met?
Parenting plans are important because they contain a multitude of provisions regarding child-rearing. This includes the amount of time that a child should have with a parent’s boyfriends or girlfriends. Read on to learn what you need to know.
A Parenting Plan Can Restrict Cohabitation
Parenting plans are essentially mutual agreements that are enforceable among you and your co-parent. These parenting plans are signed off by both of you, and they can include things such as:
- Parents aren’t to start living with a significant other until they are remarried.
- Parents aren’t to allow the child to call a significant other “stepmother” or “stepfather” until they are remarried.
- Parents aren’t to leave a child alone with a significant other.
Understandably, parenting plans can be either more or less restrictive depending on the dynamic of the relationship and the concerns involved. Parents may instead agree on provisions such as “you will not introduce our child to a significant other until having dated for at least six months.”
The goal of these restrictions is to reduce the amount of disruption in the child’s life. A litany of new girlfriends or boyfriends can be confusing to a child, and thinking of these girlfriends or boyfriends as potential parents can lead to parental alienation.
Revising an Existing Custody Agreement Usually Requires a Reason
If you don’t have a parenting agreement in place, but instead have a general custody agreement, you would need to go to the courts and request a modification of custody. However, it usually requires a specific reason. If you simply don’t feel comfortable with having another person around your child, you would need to explain why.
Most judges are not going to restrict custody just because you feel uncomfortable with their new partner, or because you feel that their partner is getting too close too fast. They will keep in mind issues such as a co-parent no longer living up to their custody agreements because they are distracted with their new partner.
Further, if the new partner has a history of violence, or has hurt a child in the past, it may be easier to get a modification of custody. You may be able to ask that the child is not left alone with this new partner, and that the new partner not stay in the house with the child.
Your Child’s Input Matters
When trying to modify a custody agreement, the courts put what’s best for the children first. If the child doesn’t like the new partner or feels uncomfortable sharing their time with the new partner, then the courts will consider this (within reason).
Likewise, if the new partner puts the children at risk, or regularly oversteps boundaries with your children, this could be presented to court. This is especially true if the new partner attempts to alienate the child from their parent.
Ultimately, most custody agreements today aren’t going to require any restrictions as to the partners that your ex-spouse can have. Courts today are forward-thinking about relationships, and tend to err on the side of flexibility.
However, by creating a parenting plan in advance, you and your ex-spouse can provide a more reasonable framework for moving forward into long-term relationships. While you may not want to restrict live-in significant others entirely, you can at least control when significant others are allowed to meet your children.
Are you ready to move forward with your custody agreements and parenting plan? Contact the experts at the Law Offices of Lynda Latta, LLC.