If you are a parent and you are divorcing in the State of Michigan, or if you are involved in a custody dispute, a child support dispute, or a dispute over visitation and parenting time after a divorce, arrange at once to discuss your situation with a metro Detroit family law attorney.
During and after a divorce, maintaining a sense of security and stability helps your children make the healthy adjustment to a new family situation. When one parent gets serious about a new partner after a divorce, children may feel that their security and stability is threatened.
After your divorce, you may not like the idea that your ex has a new partner who is frequently around your children – or even babysitting your children. You may be concerned about the effect this person will have, or you may be uncomfortable with any stranger supervising your children.
What Can You Do About Your Ex’s New Partner?
You’re a parent. It’s completely understandable if you are anxious about the appropriateness of your children meeting and spending time with your ex’s new partner. But are there any legal steps that you can take or anything appropriate that you can do in response?
If you’ll keep reading, you will learn some answers, and you will also learn more about your rights as a parent after a divorce in Michigan.
The fact is that in most cases, when your ex has parenting time with your children, there is nothing you can do about your ex’s new partner also spending time with your children. Your ex can make that choice, because your ex is exercising his or her legal parental rights.
What If Your Children Are at Risk?
If your ex has parenting time, it is because the court presumes that your ex is competent to raise your children and to decide who can be in their presence. You will need specific evidence that indicates otherwise if you hope to keep the new partner away from your children.
Unless you can prove that there is inappropriate behavior such as abuse, excessive drinking, or criminal activity like illegal drug use, you may have no legal ability to block or restrain your children’s relationship with your ex’s new partner.
How Can a Family Law Attorney Help?
If you have evidence of abuse or other inappropriate behavior, you should ask a Michigan child custody attorney to seek of modification of the court’s custody and visitation or parenting time order. A judge may choose to prevent your ex’s new partner from being around your children if:
- The new partner poses a risk to your children’s emotional or physical health.
- The new partner’s presence threatens to impair your children’s emotional development.
- There is evidence of abuse, excessive alcohol or drug consumption, or criminal activity.
If you seek a modification of the court’s custody and visitation order because of your ex’s new partner, the court will try to balance your ex’s right to have a new relationship with the needs and best interests of your children.
What is a Michigan Court’s Highest Priority?
Nothing is more important than our children, and in every family court case that involves children in Michigan, the best interests of those children will be the court’s highest priority.
If your ex’s new partner is a genuine risk to your children’s life or health, deal with the matter at once. Contact a metro Detroit family lawyer, share your evidence with that lawyer, and have the lawyer schedule a modification hearing in a Michigan family court as quickly as possible.
Child custody order modifications are typically granted by the court only when there are significant changes in the lives of the parents or children: for example, if a parent remarries, relocates, loses a job, or receives a criminal conviction that requires jail or prison time.
You’ll Need Specific and Personalized Advice
If you and your attorney can prove that being in the presence of your ex’s new partner places your children at risk, the court may agree that a “significant” change has taken place and may grant a modification of the custody order. Or the court may order that the boyfriend cannot be around the children.
If your ex is the parent who is asking the court to modify the child custody order, and if you believe no modification is necessary, you will also need a knowledgeable attorney on your side. Every case is unique, and you’ll need a family law attorney’s specific and personalized advice.
If there is no evidence that your ex’s new partner poses any kind of risk to your children, it might be best – in the long run – to take the positive view and accept the reality that your children will have another adult in their lives.
What if You are the Parent Who is in a New Relationship?
Of course, after your divorce, your ex isn’t the only person who has the right to pursue a new relationship. You have that right too, but it is probably best not to introduce your children to someone that you are only casually dating. There is no reason to hurry.
If a new partner is introduced to children too quickly, the effect can be negative, especially if the children still hope that their parents will reconcile. Keep in mind that if there is a pending divorce case, you can ask a judge to order that there are to be no paramours around the children.
Most judges will order that there are to be no boyfriends or girlfriends around the children during the divorce. It may take time for your children to accept a new person in your life. Here are several rules for introducing a new partner to your children:
1. Give your children time to adjust to your divorce. It can take a year or more for children to get over anger or profound disappointment. If you introduce your children to a new partner too quickly, you may make it more difficult for them to adjust to your divorce.
2. Remember that children may view your new partner as a rival for your attention and affections.
3. Your children need reassurance and security. Reassure your children that you have plenty of love to go around.
4. Ask yourself if your new partner is a good fit with your children.
5. If you’ve dated someone for some time, if the relationship is no longer casual, and if you would like to introduce your new partner to your children, tell them there is someone that you would like them to meet, and ask for their ideas on how that meeting should happen.
After a divorce, you must put your children first. If they’re not at risk, adjusting to and accepting the new situation may be the best thing you can do for your children. But if your children are at risk, you need to act, and a metro Detroit family law attorney can help you do that.