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If you have children and are no longer with their mother or father, then introducing a new partner to them can be uncomfortable. You are likely to feel happy and excited to share someone you care about with your closest family; however, you might also feel guilty or worried about their reaction at the same time.

 

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ rule when it comes to introducing a new partner and what works for one family may be entirely inappropriate for another.

 

However, some things that you need to take into consideration include how long you have been divorced or separated, the age of your children, the commitment of the relationship and your own circumstances as a separated family.

 

#1 Timing is Everything

Timing is very important when it comes to introducing a new partner. For your own benefit as well, you should not rush into welcoming a new partner into yours or your children’s lives too quickly after the family separating. Children should be given time to re-adjust to their new routines before another person moves in or becomes a part of their lives. There is not a hard and fast rule of how much time should be left between partners, this will depend on your personal circumstances. Some people may feel that the time is right after dating for a few weeks, others may wait 6 months before introducing their children to someone new.

 

#2 Be Committed

It is not fair to introduce your children to someone who ends up not being around for very long as this can cause confusion and upset. Be sure that your new relationship is a committed one before you take that next step. Whilst no one holds a crystal ball, you should be able to tell if your relationship is progressing in the right direction. If you have discussed plans into the future, living arrangements etc. then this is a positive sign.

 

#3 Think About Your Children’s Reaction

All children are different and may react to the introduction of a new partner differently depending on their age or their emotions. If they are still upset about their parent’s separation then they may react negatively to someone new, however nice they may be. Often children hold onto the idea that their parents will get back together one day, and the welcoming of a new partner can crush that dream for them. Some children may feel jealousy towards a new partner as they become your focus. It is important to talk to your children and understand how they feel. Not all reactions are bad. Some children will be very accepting of a new partner, especially if they are making their mother/father happy and this emotion will reflect the atmosphere of the home. Many children go on to form a bond with stepparents and this provides more people to love and look out for your child.

 

#4 Provide Reassurance and Security

Divorce or separation can make children feel vulnerable and anxious, particularly if the separation was difficult or they witnessed arguments during the process. Ensure that when you do decide to introduce a new partner to them that they feel supported. Some children may feel like their world has been turned upside down, so try to make any more changes as less disruptive and gradual as possible.

 

#5 Treat Your Ex-Partner With Respect

If you are seeing someone new it is worth letting your ex-partner know before you speak to your children so that they are aware and are not hearing the news from their child. Depending on the circumstances around your separation and your relationship, then this may be a difficult conversation to have. Think about how you would like to be informed if the shoe were on the other foot.

 

Planning the First Meeting

 

When making that first introduction it is likely that all parties will over overwhelmed or anxious for differing reasons. Some ideas to consider when planning to meet the family:

 
  • Meet somewhere neutral as it can be daunting for children to have someone coming into their home and personal space.
 
  • Ideally do something that has distractions rather than sitting face-to-face talking which can be intimidating. A playground, park or an activity such as bowling is good to keep younger children entertained and distracted from any awkwardness.
 
  • Plan the meet up in advance so that your children have time to get their head around the meeting and remind younger children in the days leading up to it. It is unfair to spring a surprise encounter on them.
 
  • Make simple, friendly introductions and think about some talking points beforehand.
 
  • Keep to a limited amount of time.
 
  • Speak to your child afterwards to gauge their thoughts and feelings but do no interrogate them about your new partner or how they feel. Listen to how they feel.
 

separated parents legal advice

Co-Parenting in New Relationships

 

It is important to keep your children’s best interests in mind when planning how your new family dynamics will work. Relationships can be complicated further if they also have children or an ex-partner becomes difficult because of the new relationship.

 

Discuss with your new partner what their role will be in your children’s life. This may differ depending on the circumstances, your living arrangements, age of your children and the involvement of their other parent. Will they take on an active parenting role? Will they be a friend? Will they take on parental responsibilities? It is important that you both understand what each other’s expectations are.

 

Keep communication open with your children’s mother / father and ensure that both households are on the same page when it comes to parenting, discipline, and support.

 

Children should never be told to keep secrets about relationships or feel like that cannot talk about a new partner in front of their other parent. Equally, parents should not be pressuring or asking children too many questions about them which can make children feel uncomfortable. Here is where being open and honest helps dispel any issues.

 

Planning Ahead

 

If you new relationship is a success and you start to think about moving in together, blending your families or getting re-married then you might want to pause for a moment to consider your legal position and protecting your children.

 

If you have already been through a divorce you will understandably be cautious of any more disruption. There are ways that you can protect your property, assets and children by putting in place a cohabitation agreement or pre-nuptial agreement to ensure that assets are split in a way that you both agree to in the event of the relationship breaking down.

 

You should also consider re-writing your will to reflect your new family situation. It is likely that you want to ensure your children benefit from your estate, but if your new partner is also responsible for mortgage payment or has an interest in the property you live in, then you may wish to seek advice on how best to reflect this in your will.

   

Key Points

 

When it comes to introducing a new partner, it is important to be certain and have confidence in your new relationship before involving your children. Consider your children’s emotions, show respect to your ex-partner and think about protecting your future.

 

Remember, that you deserve to find happiness again after your separation, but now is a time to be sensitive to your children’s feelings to make the process of introducing your new partner smoother for everyone.

 

Getting Legal Advice

 

To discuss any of these issues with a specialist Family Lawyer, then please get in touch with our friendly team today.

 

Call us on 01256 844888, email enquiries@lambbrooks.com or speak to our online chat assistant at any time of day, including evenings and weekends.

     

Other Articles You May Be Interested in Reading:

10 Golden Rules for Protecting Your Children During Separation

How to Tell Your Children About Divorce: An Age Appropriate Guide

5 Things You Need to Know if You Are Living Together

   

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice.  The law may have changed since this article was published.   Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.