Kevin and Donna are in the early stages of divorce proceedings. Kevin is 32 and Donna is 28, and they have three children, ages 3, 5 and 7. Kevin alleges that, over the past couple of months, Donna has introduced the children to her boyfriend, confusing the kids by calling him their new daddy. Kevin feels that this undermines his position as their father and that Donna is attempting to drive a wedge between him and the children. For his part, while Kevin has casually dated a couple of women including a co-worker, he has deliberately kept his dates separate from his family and has not introduced nor even mentioned them to the kids. What recourse does Kevin have?

Although judges tend to vary significantly on this issue, most judges will prohibit a party to a divorce from exposing the children to a third party romantic relationship while the divorce is pending. This can make it very difficult for a party to a divorce who is residing with or spending a substantial amount of time with his/her new boyfriend/girlfriend. In fact, many times the other party will use the relationship to make it more difficult for the romantically involved spouse to exercise their visitation rights. This occurs particularly often when a spouse is angry and vindictive and often exacerbates the difficulties between the parties.

For these and a variety of other reasons, if possible it is highly advisable to avoid exposing children to new romantic partners and relationships while the divorce is still “fresh”. Often these relationships do not turn out to be long term relationships and they usually create ill will and bad feelings between the parties. Even if the children are not exposed to the third party romantic relationship, it is advisable to keep these relationships low key to avoid angering the other spouse, enflaming the situation and creating greater difficulties in the process of divorce.