One of the most challenging things that happen to co-parents after divorce is that one of them gets involved with a new partner. It brings up all sorts of thoughts and fears on both sides.
Unfortunately, some divorced parents strongly disapprove of their exes’ new partners. Sometimes, this seems random or merely spiteful. In other cases, your ex could have serious concerns about the suitability of your new partner as a potential caregiver. Can your ex stop you from moving in with your new partner?
The answer is likely, no, unless your ex can demonstrate that your new living situation violates the parenting order or would not be in the best interest of your children.
However, your new relationship could affect your co-parenting if a court were to find that it is likely to harm your children or if you are planning to move out of state.
In general, your ex can only complain to the court when circumstances have changed in a way that makes it necessary to change your parenting plan. However, your ex does have the right to safeguard the children by preventing their exposure to dangerous individuals.
Does your ex have reason to be concerned?
It is important to be aware that if your new partner has criminal convictions, addiction issues, mental health problems, or other concerns that could deem them unsuitable to be around children, your ex might attempt to seek restrictions on their access to your children.
Sit down with a lawyer and talk this through. Not everyone with a criminal conviction must be kept away from children. Mental and behavioral health are crucial factors, but you may have good reason to trust your new partner’s ability to be safe around your kids.
That said, you must never leave your children in the care of anyone who might abuse or neglect them. If that happens the court might question your judgment as a parent and could even restrict your time with the children.
Are you moving the children a significant distance away?
Your shared parenting agreement is a court order and both parents must follow it or, if that becomes impractical, ask a court to modify it. What happens if your move takes the kids a significant distance away from your ex?
Your parenting agreement may address what should happen if one parent wants to move away with the kids. If it does, you must follow what it says or ask a court to modify it.
In general, you must ask your ex’s permission before moving away or out of state if the move would affect your ex’s parenting time. The further you plan to move, the more likely the move will affect your ex’s parenting time or even violate your shared parenting agreement.
If your ex does not agree, you will need permission from the court. The court will weigh various factors and determine if the move is in your children’s best interest.
Does it matter if I have sole or shared custody?
Yes. If you have sole custody, it is much more likely that you will be allowed to move. If you have shared custody, your ex can object. The move will not go forward if a court finds it is not in your children’s best interest.
These are complex issues. The best place to start is to sit down for an initial consultation with an experienced attorney. Be sure to choose an attorney who not only demonstrates compassion but also goes the extra mile for your family.