In today’s mini episode, we are going to be talking about the introduction of significant others post-divorce.
This is something that many divorce agreements will speak to because parents going through a divorce anticipate having future relationships in their lives, or they may already have another relationship, and the parents both want to be comfortable with what the plan is for introducing future significant others to their kids.
So, there are a couple of ways that parents will agree to limit or to regulate the introduction of significant others to their kids.
One can be, very simply, around the length of time that the relationship has lasted for. The gist would be that you would say in your agreement, “Neither parent will introduce a significant other to the children until they have been dating for X number of months,” or whatever amount of time feels appropriate to you.
Another way to limit those introductions or to restrict introductions to significant others is more of a qualitative bar, is to say that no relationship, unless it is a significant one or has the potential of being permanent or is likely to become permanent, under no circumstances would a significant other be introduced to the children unless there’s such a relationship. This is basically trying to – sort of much harder to measure…although not that it’s easy, honestly, to measure how long the other parent has been dating somebody, because who’s to say when that began. But anyway, limiting introductions to a significant other by the quality of the parent’s relationship is something that you will see in divorce agreements. But realistically, it can be hard to enforce.
Another component of introducing a significant other to the children is often the notification of the other parent before it happens. So, the parent who has a significant other, they let the other parent know before they introduce their significant other to the children.
Sometimes, the parents will also agree that the other parent will have the opportunity – not the obligation, but the opportunity – to meet the significant other before that person is introduced to the children.
Finally, and this goes a bit beyond introductions, but some agreements will speak to when overnights with a significant other would be permitted – when the children are present, that is – and at what point would that happen. Would it be after a certain period of time? Would it be not until the parties are engaged, or have some other formal recognition of their relationship? Would it be not until the other parent has met the significant other? So, there are a variety of ways that you can approach that.
And then, also, sometimes, parents will speak to, is it permissible for the significant other to be alone with the children or to be supervising the children or the child themselves, or do they need to, for a certain period of time or until they meet the other parent, do they need to only be in the presence of the child or the children when the other parent is present, right? So never by themselves, not babysitting or supervising the kids on their own.
That concludes our mini episode on significant others. I hope this episode was helpful for you.