Post-divorce tips for parents considering new relationships

When you decided to file for divorce in a New Jersey court, you might have taken a few days or weeks to tell your children. You and your spouse were hopefully able to sit down with them and explain the situation together, reassuring them, of course, that it's not their fault and that you love them and will be there to support them as they adapt to the changes that are likely to occur in their lives because of your decision.

Perhaps, your kids will be attending a new school after you finalize your divorce. Maybe you and your children will be staying put in the house you lived in during marriage. Especially during the first year, numerous issues might arise that make moving on in life after divorce quite challenging. One issue in particular that often causes stress for children whose parents have split occurs when a mom or dad introduces kids to a new romantic partner.

Tread softly and think things through

Like all good parents in New Jersey and beyond, you want what's best for your kids. In a post-divorce lifestyle, however, problems can arise if you and your ex interpret that differently.

It's definitely not a good idea to use introducing children to a new partner as a way to get back at your ex. Instead, it's a time when co-parents should work together and discuss the situation ahead of time. Thinking of how a new development in your social life will affect your children can help you make decisions that keep their best interests in mind.

Every child is unique

When you informed your kids that you were getting divorced, you might have noticed that they each reacted differently. Perhaps, one showed anger, while another became quiet and retreated to his or her bedroom for a while. You'll want to keep their ages and personalities in mind when introducing them to a new partner. 

If you have a child with special needs who might not clearly understand what is happening, you may need to take a different approach than you have taken with your other children. You might decide to introduce all your children to your new partner at the same time or arrange one-on-one time with each so that he or she can process the information in his or her own way.

Be prepared for a wide range of emotion

As co-parents, you and your ex will want to be as patient as possible when you introduce your kids to a new partner or tell them that you are marrying another person. If children know they can freely share their emotions without upsetting their parents or making them angry, they are more likely to be honest about their feelings and proactive in discussing their emotions with you.

If the new partner has children

Becoming acquainted with a parent's new romantic partner can be stressful for children. If the person you're dating has children as well, it may further complicate the issue. If a remarriage occurs, the children become stepsiblings, which typically creates additional challenges for kids who are coming to terms with their parents' divorce and learning to move on in life.

If you're thinking of marriage, it might be best to allow your kids time to become comfortable with your new partner before introducing them to his or her children.

When new relationships spark legal problems

Will your ex's new partner be allowed to pick up your kids from school? Should new partners attend family gatherings on holidays? What about if an ex's partner is jealous of you and tries to impede your relationship with your children? These and other potentially serious issues can create legal problems. 

Co-parents must adhere to their child custody agreements. You can definitely incorporate rules and details regarding new partners into your agreement. At any time, if you believe someone is trying to undermine or disregard your parental rights or an existing court order, you can seek immediate support to resolve the problem.

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Robin Jill Schneider
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