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When Your Ex Gets a New Partner: Should You Be Concerned?

When Your Ex Gets a New Partner: Should You Be Concerned?

This week’s gossip column news about Chrissy Teigen’s divorce comments (she told ‘US Weekly’ “the number one reason we are not getting divorced is because I refuse to see another woman with my baby”) lead me to thinking about how third parties impact on divorce proceedings – often a huge area of concern for separating and separated parents.

Deciding on the best routine for sharing the care of children following separation is exceptionally difficult, both practically (especially given that many more parents are sharing the care of children between them as they are both out at work) and emotionally. The fears and anxiety felt are, understandably, multiplied in circumstances when one or both parents have new partners.

When possible, the introduction of any new partner into the children’s lives should be discussed and agreed in advance. Depending on the age of the children, how established the new relationship is, and any number of other factors, the parents may wish to agree: how and when the new partner is to meet the children; what the children are to be told about the new partner and their involvement in their lives; and, whether it is suitable for the new partner to be left alone with the children, for example.

Unless there are reasons for concerns to be raised, the Court’s view will be that the parent with the new relationship needs to be trusted to manage the introduction of the new partner and their continued relationship with the children in a way the promotes the children’s best interests above all else. Where there are legitimate concerns, and it is not possible to agree ‘safety measures’, a Court Order can be sought to require the relevant parent to restrict the new partner’s contact with the children as appropriate.

There can be financial concerns too; what if he has children with her and can’t afford his maintenance obligations.

With regards to child maintenance, paid in accordance with the Child Maintenance Service, additional children living in the same household as the paying parent will result in a percentage reduction in the child maintenance they are required to pay.

With regards to spousal maintenance, or other payments due, agreed or ordered, the Court will not allow the paying parent to forgo his financial responsibilities to his ‘first family’. That said, if an application is made and the Court is asked to adjudicate on the issues, it will take the paying parent’s increased expenditure into account as one of the many factors affecting the overall fairness of the payments sought or previously agreed/ordered.

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Our Family and Matrimonial team helps families across West London and Buckinghamshire. If you would like to discuss any aspect of family law, are considering divorce proceedings or a trial separation, or want to draw up a pre or post-nuptial agreement, call us in absolute confidence on 03456 381381. Alternatively, email us at familylaw@ibblaw.co.uk.

Photo attribution: David Shankbone