Sharing custody is fraught with challenges for recently-divorced couples. Few things are likely to intensify your emotions as quickly or completely as disrespectful behavior involving your children. When your kids come home from a visit with their other parent and inform you that they spent the day in the care of your ex’s new romantic interest, you may see red.
You may resent the idea that your children will look up to a stranger or someone who was part of the affair that destroyed your marriage as an authority figure. You may also worry that the other person will not treat your children with the respect and decency that they deserve.
Can you potentially prevent your ex from bringing their new love interest around your children or turning to that person as a babysitter?
You generally can’t control your ex’s parenting decisions
Unless you have sole custody and your ex only has visitation rights, you typically have to abide by the decisions for the children’s care that they make during their parenting time. While you may think that having someone who cheated with your spouse around the kids sets a bad moral example, that likely won’t be enough to prompt the courts into action.
If there is evidence that this person is unstable or dangerous, such as a history of criminal convictions or possibly the removal of their children from their home, then you could ask the courts to intervene. Otherwise, they likely won’t stop your ex from involving new love interests in the children’s lives.
How can you protect your kids?
While the courts are unlikely to intervene in who your ex brings around during their parenting time, you may at least be able to prevent a stranger from being the one who provides child care for your kids. If you include a clause requesting the right of first refusal in your custody order, your ex will always have to check with you before they leave the children in the care of someone else.
You will have the option of taking the kids, which will mean you don’t have to worry about a stranger that you don’t trust being alone with them for hours. Including the right of first refusal in your custody order won’t prevent a new boyfriend or girlfriend from spending the night or stopping by for dinner, but they won’t be able to babysit your kids unless your ex checks with you first and you decline to take the kids during that time.
When you feel strongly about the involvement of a new adult in your children’s lives and your ex is unreceptive to your concerns, going back to court to update your Massachusetts custody order may be the best option. Learning more about how to create a protective and effective parenting plan can make sharing custody easier after your divorce.