When you share children with an ex, a worrisome issue may arise when your ex starts dating someone and you do not like the person. Alternatively, your ex may have already been dating someone who seemed fine, but his or her personality has taken a turn for the worse.
Is there anything you can do to prevent or stop such an issue?
Use the parenting agreement
If you have yet to complete the divorce process, a proactive approach is to make a provision in the parenting plan for gradual introductions. For example, the both of you may agree to wait at least six months after beginning to date someone before introducing the new person to your children. You can also agree that the children will not sleep over at the new person’s home for, say, at least a year after introductions. This allows your ex to get to know the person better before involving your children.
Of course, there are situations in which all of the above can become gray: an elopement, for example, or a years-long friendship turning romantic. Still, having something solid in the parenting agreement is a good start. So is accepting the knowledge that a blended family at some point is likely.
Differentiate between dislike and a true threat
It is natural to dislike your ex’s new partner. Because of that, though, it is even more important to assess whether the root of your problem is dislike or if the person poses a true threat. A history of child abuse allegations could be a real reason to worry. Similarly, the new partner wanting to relocate and bring your ex and the child could be a problem. On the other hand, the new partner letting your child drink soda at dinner instead of enforcing a water-only rule probably would not fly.
When there is potential for real harm or your children have been hurt in some way, you can try to get your parenting plan legally modified, perhaps limiting the other parent’s time sharing or visitation. Otherwise, counseling may help you and your ex (and even the new partner) try to find peaceful grounds and to put your children’s best interests first.