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Can I Legally Stop My Ex Introducing A New Partner To My Child?
The short answer is, yes, you may potentially be able to stop your ex-partner from introducing your child to their new partner. However, what you need to understand is that this will only normally be possible if there is a good reason related to your child’s welfare for preventing them from coming into contact with your ex’s new partner.
Where the reason is not related to your child’s welfare, it may be possible to agree with your ex to delay introducing your children to their new partner, but you are unlikely to be able to legally force them not to make the introduction.
In this article, we will cover some of the most important points you need to consider around your ex introducing a new partner to your child:
- Your rights as a parent to stop your ex introducing someone to your child
- The dangers of “unreasonably” preventing your child meeting your ex’s new partner
- Reasons to stop your ex introducing someone to your child
- How to legally stop someone from seeing your child
- How to get “sole custody” of your child
For specific advice on how to deal with child law issues following a separation, please get in touch with our team in London and across the South East now by calling 020 3281 7888 or contacting your local Crisp & Co office.
Your rights as a parent to stop your ex introducing someone to your child
It is entirely understandable and normal to feel upset or uncomfortable about the idea of your ex-partner introducing your children to their new partner. The thought of someone else you don’t know and don’t trust interacting with your children and possibly even starting to take on some aspects of a parental role can be really worrying and distressing.
If your ex wants to introduce a new partner to your child, the first thing to understand is exactly what rights you have as a parent. As long as you have legal parental responsibility for your child, then you have the right to be involved in key decisions about their upbringing.
However, who your child is introduced to, including their other parent’s new partner, is unlikely to be considered a key decision if the matter were to go to court. This means that, unless you have a specific reason why you think a particular person represents a danger to your child, then you are unlikely to be able to stop them from meeting.
There is no specific family law guidance around introducing new partners to children, so if you want to stop your ex’s new partner from seeing your child, you will need specialist guidance on the specifics of your situation.
The dangers of “unreasonably” preventing your child meeting your ex’s new partner
Something to carefully consider is that it could have a negative impact on your child and your relationship with them if you attempt to prevent them meeting their other parent’s new partner without a good reason.
If your former partner were to agree not to introduce your child to their new partner, it could seriously impact on the time they are able to spend together, especially if your ex starts living with their new partner. It could mean that your child was no longer able to spend time at their other parent’s house, damaging their relationship and causing your child confusion and distress.
Ultimately, this could start to negatively impact your child’s wellbeing and, if they see you are responsible, it could harm their relationship with you. If the situation causes increased tension between you and your ex, this is also likely to affect your children and could seriously harm their wellbeing.
In the worst-case scenario, your ex-partner could take the matter to court, arguing that your behaviour is harming your children. In such a situation, a court is unlikely to be sympathetic to you attempting to prevent contact between your child and your ex’s new partner, unless you have a specific reason relating to your child’s safeguarding or wellbeing.
Reasons to stop your ex introducing someone to your child
If you do not have specific concerns related to your child’s safety, it may be possible to agree with your ex that they should delay introducing your child to their new partner or that this should be done gradually. This could help to avoid confusing or overwhelming your children, as well as giving you time to adjust.
Many people prefer to put off introducing children to a new partner until they are sure the relationship is serious, so this is often not a contentious issue.
Where you can and should take steps to stop your ex from introducing your child to a new partner is if you are concerned that the new partner could harm your child. You would need to be able to show specific cause for concern and a court would normally need evidence to show that the new partner poses a risk to your children.
If you are concerned, you may need to carry out a background check on your ex’s new partner. You can ask your local police station if someone has a record of sexual offences or you may need to consult a private investigator.
Examples of the kind of situations where you may be able to convince a court that a person poses a risk to your child is if they are a drug user or have a history of violence or sexual offences, especially those involving children. If the person has a criminal record related to any of these issues, then it is likely to be easier to get a court to agree that they should be barred from having contact with your children.
A child law specialist can advise on reasons to stop child contact with specific individuals and guide you through the necessary legal processes.
How to legally stop someone from seeing your child
If you want to agree amicably with your ex that they should delay introducing a new partner to your child or that this should be done gradually, then you have various options for doing so. This can be agreed privately through a simple verbal agreement or you might use alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation and collaborative law.
Getting an agreement in writing can help to ensure that everyone is clear about the situation and what has been agreed, as well as giving you something objective to refer back to later. This can also include an agreement on how you will more generally approach co-parenting with your ex and any new partners either of you may have.
Something to bear in mind is that any agreement about introducing children to new partners will normally need to cut both ways, so you would need to work to the same rules.
If you need to stop your child being around someone due to safeguarding concerns, a voluntary agreement is not likely to be sufficient. Instead, you would need to apply to a court for a Prohibited Steps Order. This is a court order that can prevent a parent from taking a specific action with regard to a child, such as allowing them to be around a certain person specified in the order as well as stopping access to a child in other ways.
If you need to apply for a Prohibited Steps Order, it is important to have specialist legal support as the application process can be complicated.
How to get “sole custody” of your child
If you have serious concerns about the company your ex-partner is keeping and that this is putting your child at risk of harm, you may need to consider taking steps to become their sole carer. This means they would live with you full time and you can potentially limit or prevent entirely any contact between your ex and your child. This is sometimes referred to as “sole custody”, although this is not a term the courts or legal professionals use.
To secure sole care of your child, you will need to apply to a court for a Child Arrangements Order or, if you already have one in place, apply to vary the terms. To be granted sole care, you will need to be able to show that this is in your children’s best interests. If you have evidence of harm or the potential for harm to your children by being in your ex’s care, then you are much more likely to be successful.
Applying for a Child Arrangements Order can be a challenging process, especially where you are seeking sole care, so expert legal advice is strongly recommended.
Why choose Crisp & Co for child law advice?
Crisp & Co’s specialist family law solicitors have been helping parents to resolve issues related to their children following divorce and separation for over 20 years. As a specialist family law firm, we have exceptional depth of expertise and experience across even the most complicated and niche aspects of child law. As such, we can provide confident guidance for the full range of situations you may find yourself facing in relation to your children.
Conflict between parents is rarely in children’s best interests, so we do everything we can to avoid conflict wherever possible. Our approach favours non-confrontational dispute resolution wherever possible, including mediation and collaborative law. Our team includes several members of Resolution – the UK’s leading network for family lawyers with a strong focus on removing unnecessary conflict. We also have several trained collaborative lawyers, so can offer this highly effective method of dispute resolution in house.
By prioritising these out-of-court approaches to family law situations, we can help you to get a resolution faster and with lower legal costs, while minimising the risk of any negative emotional fallout for your children.
That said, if court proceedings are the best or only option, we can advise you and ensure you know exactly what is involved. We will then make sure you have the very best support every step of the way to get the outcome your children need.
Get in touch with our child law solicitors in London & South East England
For help with any legal issues related to your children’s upbringing and welfare, please get in touch.