Your co-parent has a new significant other. Now what?

When you divorce, you realize that you and your ex will likely find new significant others eventually. However, when you learn that your ex has someone special in his or her life, it can still cause a range of strong, conflicted emotions. If the two of you have children together, your biggest concern is the role this new person will play in their lives.

If you and your co-parent have an amicable relationship, you’ve likely agreed to notify the other parent before you introduce them to a new person. Of course, this isn’t always the case. Don’t be surprised if you hear about him or her from your kids rather than your ex.

You have every right to meet any new romantic partner who will be interacting with your kids as soon as possible. Ask your ex to arrange this. If he or she won’t do that, find a way to introduce yourself (without stalking, of course) and suggest getting together. Perhaps you have mutual friends or acquaintances who could facilitate that.

It’s natural that you might not be able to summon up kind feelings towards this person. However, don’t share your animosity with your kids. No matter how painful it may be, encourage them to get along with your ex’s new love. They should feel free to share any thoughts they have — negative or positive — with you. However, it’s important for you to remain neutral in your responses.

Some issues, however, should be addressed with your ex. For example, the new significant other should not be disciplining your kids and certainly shouldn’t be physically or verbally abusive. If your kids express any kind of fear, address that immediately with your ex.

On the other hand, sometimes new significant others start behaving too much like parents. They shouldn’t ask kids to call them “Mom” or “Dad.” They shouldn’t be your children’s caregiver for long periods, nor should significant others take over your co-parent’s role in custody exchanges. If your ex is spending a lot of time with the new partner and less time parenting, that’s an issue as well.

If you encounter any of these issues and aren’t able to resolve them with your co-parent, talk with your Arizona family law attorney about seeking modifications to your parenting plan and custody/visitation agreement or taking other steps to protect your children.

Source:, “PARENTING TOGETHER APART: When Your Ex Has a New Significant Other,” Brette Sember, accessed May 01, 2018

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