family in kitchen children and shopping bags sit on kitchen island surface

I have often been asked about whether there are any specific rules or regulations regulating the introduction of new partners to children.

This can be a very difficult and emotive time for parents particularly when a new partner is introduced for the first time following a couples’ separation, particularly if one of the parents moves on far more quickly from the separation than the other.

Are There Any Regulations On The Introduction Of A New Partner?

The most straightforward to this query is no, there are no particular provisions or regulations which govern the timing or suitability of the introduction of new partners to children.

Given that both parents will hold parental responsibility and part of that parental responsibility is for the parent to determine appropriate arrangements for their children and to keep them safe both physically and emotionally and mentally, with whom the children come into contact whilst in that parent’s care is effectively a decision that that parent should be taking with the best interests of their children at heart.

Reasons For Genuine Concern When Introducing New Partners

There are of course circumstances there may be a genuine concern to be held about an introduction to new partners if information has been provided, for example, that the potential new partner has some form of significant criminal history particularly involving issues of violence, has a history of domestically abusive relationships behind them, or there is concern over their use of drink or drug or loss of children previously into the care system due to issues of neglect or abuse which may justify conditions being imposed about their engagement with the children.

Agreeing Arrangements For The Introduction Of New Partners

Outside of the above specific concerns, the introduction of a new partner can of course be a significant event for a child and it may perhaps be appropriate for the parents to agree on some common sense arrangements which might include establishing the longevity of a new relationship prior to the introduction of children, how the new partner will be introduced to the children and the nature of their engagement.

A previous case in which I was involved did ultimately see us securing an order which specified the amount of time that must pass before a parent could introduce children to a new partner simply because that parent had been introducing children not only to new partners but also their children with incredible regularity and frequency which ultimately was proving emotionally harmful to the children, who just started to become attached to a new partner when the father, in that case, moved onto a new relationship and the children never saw that partner or their children again.

It is quite apparent that a part of the emotive issues surrounding the introduction of a new partner is a concern particularly by the “absent” parent when the primary carer moves a new partner into the home that there will in some way be a supplanting of that parent and their role and importance in that child’s life. Again, therefore it may be appropriate to take a common sense approach, to have a proper discussion around the issues of the involvement of the new partner and for example what they might be called by the children.

 

If you have asked the questions on the introduction of a new partner and would now like more information on the different types of proceedings relating to children, please get in touch and we’d be happy to assist you.

Private Family Law series

The next article in the series will address the question ‘do I need consent to take the children on holiday within the UK?’. For more information on Private Family Court Proceedings and Misconceptions, please read these articles: