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Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

New partners can help better relations

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I was drawn to an article (Why I’ll never let my ex’s new girlfriend meet my son) a few weeks ago. I have since tried to get it out of my head but it just won’t go away so I felt compelled to share my thoughts on it. To summarise, the mother of the child point blank refuses to allow her son to have any contact with his father if she believes his father’s new partner will be present. I’d encourage parents to read this as an example of how not to do things and instead adopt a more conciliatory approach. Behaving in this way is not going to help the child’s situation, which should be everyone’s primary consideration. 

After couples separate they are likely to meet new partners in the future. There will always be an element of concern about a new partner. The natural parental instinct is to protect your child against possible threats and woe betide anyone who gets in the way! 

Often the first thing I hear from parents is: “I have no idea who this person is. What do they want to do with my children?!” My responses to these questions are: “Well, have you met them?” and “Probably nothing”. I would then ask: “And you, have you met anyone yet?” The response to this is commonly: “Yes, but what’s that got to do with it?”. You can immediately see how some people come to the table without a balanced perspective. 

New partners are undoubtedly a delicate issue after divorce. Sometimes this is borne out of an underlying jealousy. In other cases, it is purely down to parental concern for the child spending time in close proximity to someone they know nothing about. Both are common and understandable reactions. 

Often the situation can be better managed if parents are prepared to talk. If you’re planning to introduce your new partner to the children, tell the other parent first what you are planning to do. Having a child suddenly saying they’ve just met daddy’s girlfriend isn’t the ideal way for the ex to find out. 

Arranging for the other parent to meet the new partner can be very beneficial and help relieve concerns, though this does depend on all concerned maintaining an adult approach to the situation and putting the needs of the children first. I have had several cases where a new partner has been the catalyst to an improved relationship between parents, often because the new partner has come from a relationship breakdown and can give an objective view. 

So adopting a new person in to your child’s life can adapt the relationship for the better and help things improve for everyone. 

Ian Giddings
Family solicitor, Warwickshire

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