A common, but less discussed divorce question is how a new relationship may change your parenting plan that you and your ex set up. In this month’s blog we look at legitimate reasons to be concerned about your ex’s new significant other. We’ll also talk about issues you may want to address when developing your parenting plan to head off potential problems later. Finally, we offer advice on when it’s time to talk with a divorce mediator to amend your parenting plan.
Not liking the ex’s new partner isn’t a valid reason to disagree on child custody. There must be a significant reason to believe it would be detrimental to the children to be around to this new boyfriend/girlfriend.
Other reasons that are not valid when looking at changing a parenting plan include your concern that your child(ren) are becoming too close to him or her. Or maybe you don’t appreciate being kept in the dark. Maybe you found out about this person from your kids and not your ex. Unfortunate, yes, but not enough reason to involve outside parties.
Obviously, some causes for concern that may warrant amending the parenting plan include things like: the significant other has a criminal record, abuses drugs and or alcohol, or displays anger/violence around the children.
If the new partner is preventing you from being able to parent your children by not allowing you to speak with them or pick them up when it’s been agreed upon, that is also an issue. If your child’s physical or mental health is threatened by this person, that also rises to the level of getting a third party involved.
Q: What if your child(ren) are being watched by this new partner when your ex is not present?
A: Unless you included language to prevent this in your parenting plan, this is completely within your ex’s parental rights. Each of you has the right to select a babysitter of his/her choosing for the child during your parenting time.
Begin with the broad question, What happens when either of us enters a new relationship?
As part of the development of your parenting plan, it is prudent to discuss issues that could negatively impact your co-parenting relationship with your ex. Issues such as:
A clearly written parenting plan provides parents and children with predictability and consistency; it also can prevent future conflict. If you have a good relationship with the other parent, you may feel that you do not need a detailed plan. Even so, a parenting plan will be your guide if your relationship becomes less cooperative in the future.
Obviously, if the child(ren) are in any type of danger, it would be important to involve a lawyer or the authorities, depending on the nature of the issue.
If you are noticing a deterioration in your co-parenting and/or communication with your ex, or if the children are expressing concerns that you determine may be valid, that is when it would be important to reach out to a mediator to discuss the issues before conflict escalates. You may not necessarily even have to amend the parenting plan. Just having a meeting with your mediator could reveal solutions you may have not thought of yet.
If you are noticing any of these red flags related to your partner’s new love interest, give us a call to look over your parenting plan. While we can’t foresee every possible scenario, we can ensure that your child’s best interests are front and center and not being pushed on the back burner by your ex’s new partner. Give us a call at 303 468-5626 to discuss your individual situation.