Article written by Gary Direnfeld
When your Ex gets a new partner, it is natural to be wary of them at first. But when that wariness doesn't subside over time, it may lead you to question whether you want this person around your kids. Maybe it's how they speak about you. Perhaps the concern is drug or alcohol use. It could even be your children's behaviour towards you upon their return. Whatever the reason, how do you handle a situation where you don't want your Ex's new partner around your kids?
Are your Concerns about your Ex's New Partner Valid?
The first thing to consider in a situation where you don't want your kids around your Ex's partner is whether your concerns are valid. Just because you don't get along with your Ex's new partner doesn't grant you the right to keep them out of your kids' lives. If there isn't a serious and real concern, there may be nothing you can do to legitimately withhold your Ex's parenting time. In fact, it may be up to you to learn how to simply manage the situation.
In the case where there is a real concern, you're going to need proof. Unfortunately, you will have to be prepared for a potentially lengthy court battle. You’ve got to know that whatever allegations you make of your ex and their new partner, they’re going to throw back their concerns. These may be real or contrived with the goal of making you look bad. These become what we call a race to the bottom. Knowing how messy things may get, keep reading for your recommended next steps.
1. Put Your Best Foot Forward:
If you are going to move forward, the first thing to do is actually catch yourself. You have to act like you are going to your place of work, wearing your best and minding your manners. The reason for this is that you don’t want to provide any ammunition that can be used against you. If this looks like you turning over a new leaf, then do so, and quickly. You can always acknowledge how you used to respond and that you learned better and are seeking the same from the other side.
2. Be Willing to Cooperate About Your Ex's New Partner:
The second thing you have to do is look like you are willing to work with the other side to address and resolve your concerns. That may mean counseling or mediation. The thing is, if this actually works, then you are already in a good place. If it doesn’t and you head off to court, you are already showing yourself to be reasonable which in turn raises your credibility.
3. Keep your Kids Out of It:
Next, and one of the most important things to remember is to keep your kids out of it. This means no name calling or demeaning your Ex partner to your children. If you are going to discuss matters concerning your situation, it should be done when your kids aren't around. If your child comes home from your Ex's house upset with you about the situation, remain calm and empathize. “My goodness you have some strong feelings. I’m sorry you are in the middle of this. Come, let’s get on with dinner.”
With that, you acknowledge what was said without going down the rabbit hole and redirecting the conversation. By not taking the bait, it demonstrates you have your wits about you and that you are reasonable regardless of anything said of you. It’s your behaviour with your child that will always speak loudest.
If you need more help to cope and manage, don’t hesitate to ask your lawyer for a referral to a counselor with expertise in managing these matters.