Living with a new girlfriend or boyfriend is a concern when it comes to child custody. You may be accused by your ex-spouse of going against the rights of the child or children or disregarding their best interests. Indeed, when a parent moves in with a new girlfriend or boyfriend immediately, even before custody decisions are made, it may affect the emotional and psychological well-being of the child.
Divorcing parents must, therefore, hesitate from making haste decisions that do not promote the best interests of the child or children. When raised during the child custody hearing may work against the parent who has moved in with a boyfriend or girlfriend.
Texas is one of the states with the ‘Morality Clause’ that works to prohibit both partners from engaging in behaviors that do not promote the best interests of the child. This includes moving with a new partner, be it girlfriend or boyfriend, and this clause will deny both partners to stay overnight with a girlfriend or boyfriend in the parents’ residence while the child or children are present.
While making child custody agreements before a courts’ decision is made, one of the parents may want to have a morality clause as part of the agreement, and once agreed, it becomes binding to both parents.
Why Is a New Girlfriend or Boyfriend a Concern in Child Custody?
It is not only the other parent who may feel bad about the new partner getting involved in a child’s life. He or she may feel worried about how the children feel, how they are being treated by the new partner, and what would be the impact on their lives.
Sometimes after divorce or separation, a parent may move with haste into a new relationship or dating, and sometimes to show some signals to the other partner that things are over between them and cannot be reversed. However, when children are involved, things become complicated since the rights and interests of the child or children must be observed.
A parent who moves to a new relationship or dating may concentrate more on the new partner than on the children and this may bring about a negative impact on the children’s emotional well-being.
A new partner when allowed to stay in the same home with the children may not understand their needs, and at some point, some even start abusing the rights of the child by harassing them, leaving them alone at home when they go out or cutting off friendships with other children.
Therefore, living with a new girlfriend or boyfriend after divorce or separation may become an issue during a child custody hearing. But that does not mean you are going to lose your case just because you lived with your girlfriend or boyfriend. If that is deemed to have worked against the best interests of the child, then that is when you should be worried about losing your case.
When to Bring in A New Girlfriend or Boyfriend?
The law does not stipulate the timelines between divorce or separation and getting a new partner. Therefore, it is more about common sense and being sensitive to the needs of the children that matters here.
As a parent, if you have divorced for quite some time and want to move on, then you are not prohibited by the law to bring a new partner. However, you should ensure that it doesn’t affect the psychological and emotional well-being of the child or children.
How Living with A New Boyfriend Would Affect the Child Custody Outcomes
If your ex-partner accused you of bringing a new partner so early and interfering with the child’s best interests, the judge will then examine the situation to know whether indeed the new partner has interfered with the interests of the child or not. If the new partner or the parent got engaged in romantic affairs in presence of the child or children, then that can be a red flag in a child custody case.
In addition to that, if bringing and living with the new boyfriend or girlfriend interfered with the visitation schedule that was earlier agreed upon by the parents, then that again is a sign that the relationship worked against the best interests of the child.
A classic example of a child custody case where the judge used the relationship of the parent with a new partner to deny that parent custody cited that it was immoral, and failed to set an example to the child. This was in Arkansas Court and the mother was denied custody for engaging in immoral behaviors that were against the best interests of the child.
New Partner and Parenting Time
When you get a new boyfriend or girlfriend after separation or divorce, that relationship may be considered by the court upon the request of the other parent.
If that relationship is found to work against the interests of the child, to endanger the physical or emotional health of the child, or interfere with the child’s development, the court may restrict the parenting time or may completely deny parenting time to that parent. That is according to the Minnesota Statute 518.175.
Most states follow suit when it comes to matters of child custody since the best interests of the child are what should prevail in any court regardless of the state.
When to Introduce a New Boyfriend or Girlfriend to Your Kids
Even before you think of introducing your girlfriend or boyfriend to the kids, think of the impacts, psychological and emotional, and whether that promotes the best interests of the child or not. In that regard, timing is key. Don’t be in haste to bring a girlfriend and spend time overnight even before your kids have come to terms with your separation or divorce.
In matters of child custody, a judge would consider many factors before making any decision on who should take custody of the child or children.
Living with a new boyfriend or girlfriend is also a concern and if it works against the best interests of the child, then it may outweigh other factors and you might end up losing custody. If the new relationship does not affect the kids negatively, then it may not affect the outcome of the judge’s decision.