Child custody is one of the most important concerns during divorces involving minor children. It naturally remains a concern even after an order is in place.
One circumstance that worries many parents is when their coparent suddenly introduces a new person into their children’s lives. New people who may end up spending a great deal of time around or exerting influence on the children can do considerable damage. Many parents may wish to revisit their custody agreements, but whether a new partner is grounds to do so depends on the circumstances.
There must be a substantial change in circumstances
Parents can file for a modification, but unless there is a “substantial and material change in circumstances,” the judge will not modify the agreement. An ex-spouse getting a new partner does not necessarily fall into this category by itself. However, if the new boyfriend or girlfriend or even spouse moves in and alters the living situation of the children in a negative manner, it does count as grounds for a modification request.
Examples are if the children experience significant declines in their physical or mental well-being or academic performance as a result of the new partner’s presence. Abuse is another way a new partner can cause a substantial and material change.
Parents need to watch out for signs their children need help
Even though finding a new partner after a divorce is not out of the ordinary, parents still need to keep an eye out for any effect the new person may have on their children. Minor children may have difficulty adjusting and need therapy even if the new partner does no direct harm to them.
The presence of a new partner is not in itself grounds for a custody modification. However, parents may need to file for one if the new partner impacts their children’s quality of life.