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THE IMPACT OF ROMANTIC PARTNERS ON CUSTODY AFTER DIVORCE IN VIRGINIA

After your divorce is finalized and you feel ready to date, you might meet someone that you want to enter into a committed relationship with, pending their compatibility with your children. Before your children meet your romantic interest, you might be wondering how this could potentially impact custody. Let’s discuss:

Do romantic partners impact custody in Virginia?
Romantic partners may impact custody. If your partner and your children are not compatible and major issues arise, such as alleged abuse or drug use, a concerning criminal record, or significant incompatibility, the other parent could use the circumstances to reopen custody. As such, you will want to exercise caution when deciding to pursue a new relationship.

When should I introduce my romantic partner to my children?
If your Property Settlement Agreement does not specify terms for romantic partners, we recommend that romantic partners be introduced after the relationship has been monogamous for at least for six consecutive months. Casual relationships, such as “friends with benefits” or “one night stands” should not be introduced to your children.

Is it my ex-spouse’s business if I enter into a new relationship?
The answer is a loaded yes and no. Technically, when your divorce is finalized, you are free to live your life as a single person, your only obligation being to carry out any agreements made during the process of finalizing your divorce.
Some couples choose to specify terms regarding their children and romantic partners in their Property Settlement Agreements during the process of finalizing their divorce. If you and your former spouse chose to do that, you have an obligation to follow the terms that you agreed to.
If you did not specify terms regarding romantic partners, your ex-spouse’s interest is based upon the “golden rule” of do unto others as you would have them do unto you; if you would want to know who is around your children when they are in their mother or father’s care, you should extend the same courtesy to your former spouse.

Do I have to introduce my romantic partner to my ex-spouse?
Again, yes and no, based upon common courtesy and the golden rule. While it is not required unless specified in a Property Settlement Agreement, if you would want to meet someone who would be around your children regularly, extend the same courtesy to your spouse. We generally recommend that you introduce your romantic partner to your former spouse before introducing him or her to your children.

Can my romantic partner spend the night while I have custody of my children?
If your Property Settlement Agreement does not specify terms for romantic partners, we recommend that romantic partners not stay over night unless the relationship has been monogamous for at least for six consecutive months, or more ideally, an engagement or remarriage has taken place. Further, no sexual encounters should occur in the presence of the children and the children should not sleep in the same bed as your partner.

Conclusion
The people you allow into your children’s lives matter, especially when your children have dealt with a divorce. If you are concerned about a romantic partner’s involvement with your children, please contact The Hopkins Law Firm to inquire what legal remedies are available to you. We may be reached at 571-248-2210 or [email protected] to schedule a consultation.

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