Whenever a divorce is finalized, many individuals will naturally find themselves wanting to enter the dating scene again. This can be an exciting experience for newly single individuals, but for those who have children, re-entering the dating scene may present a unique set of challenges for both children, parents, and significant others, including interference with a custody agreement that would have otherwise been carried out without a problem. For any parent who chooses to date after a divorce, the following information should be kept in mind.
Be mindful of how your new relationship affects the children. Adjusting to a new person filling the shoes of mom or dad can be a lot for a child to process. Children may feel conflicted about who to remain loyal to if faced with a choice of choosing dad over mom’s new boyfriend. Additionally, a child naturally holds on to the hope that his/her parents will one day get back together. When a new significant-other is introduced into the mix, a child is forced to come to terms with the permanency of the divorce, and this can be an overwhelming realization. However, children can also be affected in a positive way by a parent’s new relationship. A child will benefit from the happier mood mom is in due to her new relationship. Also, children are now able to reap the benefits of having another adult person in their life who cares for them.
Do not encourage your child to choose your new significant-other over your ex-spouse. No matter how much you despise your ex, your child deserves the chance to love and be loved by both of his/her parents. A common tactic used by divorced parents to get more time with the children is to manipulate the children into favoring their new significant-other over their ex. This is never okay to do, and will only cost you more in attorney fees in the long run. Seeking to have a petition to modify custody/visitation granted can be a lengthy process – one in which both your and your ex’s attorneys will be faced with the task of discovering the real reason why you are seeking a modification. When the attorneys, and more importantly the judge, discover the manipulation involved, you can guarantee that your actions will not work in your favor.
Respect your ex’s wishes regarding your new relationship. This is always a controversial issue for which there is no cookie-cutter solution. It may not always be easy to discern whether your ex is uncomfortable with your new choice of significant other for selfish reasons, or for legitimate reasons involving the best interest of the child. While you should embrace your freedom as a newly single individual, you should show the same respect to your ex as you would want him to show you. For example, if your ex is uncomfortable with you and your child spending the night at your new boyfriend’s house, it may be in everyone’s best interest to refrain from doing so. If your new boyfriend frequently watches TV with vulgar language in it while visiting your house, and your ex would rather your child not be subject to hearing such colorful language, consider asking your new love interest to keep it G/PG rated around the children. Again, there is no law governing these such lifestyle choices, but respecting your ex as you work together as co-parents will facilitate a harmonious environment for your child to grow up in, and will inevitably cut down on attorney fees in the long run while your child is still a minor.
For more information on child custody and visitation, feel free to contact The Law Office of Bradley R. Tengler in Rockford, IL at 815-981-4859 for a free consultation. Please note, the above does not constitute legal advice. Please discuss your specific rights with an attorney in your own jurisdiction.