Parents in the midst of a divorce often ask how to keep the other parent’s girlfriend or boyfriend away from their kids. The question is usually asked with a mix of jealousy and concern for the children. While both parties need to recognize and understand that the other person is likely going to move on with life and start seeing other people, it is important to protect children when dealing with new relationships.
There are several limitations that can be included in a divorce decree in order to provide protection for the children:
1) Limits on Overnight Guests – This is the most basic of protections, prohibiting a parent from having a lover spend the night while the children are in the house. This helps avoid confusion for the children. Such a limitation could be until a parent remarries or until a parent has been in a relationship with a person for a specified period of time. This is typically referred to as a morality clause.
2) Limits on Meeting Girlfriends/Boyfriends – This is typically a time limitation, where the parents agree or are instructed by the court to wait a specified time period, or until engagement, prior to introducing a new date to the children. This helps to ensure that the relationship is more likely permanent before the children start to form a with the new person. This is important because it helps protect children from the sense of loss than can occur when a parent breaks up with someone the children have become close to.
3) Bans on Specific Individuals – these types of restrictions are most commonly found in situations where a parent had an affair which lead to the divorce. The purpose is to protect the children from the person who was instrumental in the break up of the family. A ban of this type can be for a specified period or can be permanent.
It is important to keep in mind that these types of clauses usually only apply until the parent remarries. Once the parent is remarried, there is usually no limitation on contact with the step-parent, unless the step-parent poses some danger to the children.