Child Custody Issue: When Your Ex Has a New Partner
It is somehow inevitable after a couple goes through a divorce that both of them will begin dating again at some point. Other than a potential emotional impact, if a divorced couple had no children, then dating others should not matter.
But when they are both co-parents then who each spouse dates often does become a concern of the other and may be something to discuss with a child custody lawyer Rockville, MD trusts. After all, depending on how serious the relationships get, the new partners will likely be spending time around the children.
It should come as no surprise – especially if the relationship between the ex-spouses is a contentious one – that an ex’s new partner can become an issue in custody and visitation. A parent may feel that the ex’s new partner is a negative influence on the child or the parent may feel threatened that the new partner is taking on too many “parenting” responsibilities. In most cases, these things are not grounds for any type of change or modification in custody.
In order to file a change of custody or parenting time schedule, there must be a significant change in circumstances. And while having a new partner does not usually warrant that change, if the new partner presents a danger to the child, the court will change the custody order.
What is considered a change in circumstance?
There are certain circumstances that the court will intervene on. One example is if the divorce process is still taking place and has not been finalized yet, the court could issue a temporary order which would prohibit the new partner from interaction with the child.
A court will also intervene if the new partner has been convicted of sex crimes or other certain criminal acts. If the new partner was caught committing a criminal act in front of the child, the court will also intervene. Keep in mind, however, just having a criminal history will not necessarily cause the court to change the custody order. It is only specific types of crimes that will result in the court’s action. Your child custody attorney can determine if your ex’s new partner’s criminal record would count.
Instead of waiting until the situation arises, many parents will address potential issues regarding new partners right in the custody agreement. Some of the factors you can incorporate in your agreement to avoid future problems include:
- Include a stipulation that neither parent can have overnight guests when they have custody of the child. This puts limits on the amount of time a new partner will spend with the child.
- Include a right of refusal stipulation. Right of refusal means that if a parent is going to have a babysitter, family member, or friend watch the child because of plans, they first have to offer the other parent the opportunity to take the child during that time. For example, if a mother is going out on a date with her new partner and was going to hire a babysitter, she would instead let the father know and he could choose to have the child go to his house instead of a babysitter at the mother’s home.
Thank you to our contributors at The Law Office of Daniel J. Wright for their insight in child custody laws.