The divorce process is traumatic and complicated, however, life moves on. After what could be a messy child custody battle or a simple matter of ‘moving on’ parents often find other partners with which they want to share their lives.
This can be a very awkward time for both you, as a parent, and your children, and introducing your kids to the ‘newfound love’ can lead to them experiencing a number of emotions. There are, therefore, a number of measures involved during this introduction, both of the psychological and legal sort. Take a look:
A parent must remain professional as well as amicable when introducing a new partner to the family. The same goes for those parents whose ex-spouse has now introduced a new partner. There are many instances of parents returning to courts at the instance of one of the parent’s new romance. This reignites a pointless legal battle because they believe that the new partner may negatively influence their children.
Both the parent in a new relationship, as well as the other parent, must respect their ex-spouse enough to amuse their concerns and/or allow the ex-spouse the freedom to date other people. What needs to remain of utmost importance is that any new decisions are made in the best interests of the children. This means that the new partner should not stay overnight with the children for at least a couple of months into what has to be a strong and committed new relationship. If a parent is only having casual relationships with one or multiple partners, it is best to not involve the children in any way whatsoever.
When a parent is introducing his/her children to a new partner, it is important that the first couple of visits are incredibly casual and quick. All visitation should occur away from the home in an environment in which the children are comfortable, such as at a restaurant. Don’t enquire from your children what they think of the new partner at this stage.
Once there is a moderate amount of affinity between the new partner and the children, then the partner may be allowed home visits. Be very careful when allowing new partners to sleep over during stays with the children. Be sure to consult the children at this stage. Find out what they think of your new partner, and encourage a prosperous relationship. To those parents whose ex has introduced a new partner; do not feel threatened by the introduction. Children understand that there is no replacing you as their parent, and the new partner may actually be beneficial to all parties involved.
If you are concerned about your children’s health during the stage whereby new family members are introduced, feel free to contact a mental health expert (such as a registered child psychologist) and/or a child custody attorney.