It’s hard when you first hear about your ex’s new partner and discover that s/he is dating again after your divorce or legal separation. It can be especially nerve-racking to discover that your ex’s new girlfriend/boyfriend is frequently around your child(ren) or babysitting during your ex’s parenting time.
You may be…
- concerned about your kids getting attached to your ex’s new partner;
- worried about the impact s/he will have on the kids;
- uncomfortable with the notion of a stranger ‘parenting’ your child;
- hurt because it seems too soon;
- angry and feel disrespected because your child (rather than your ex) informed you;
The point is, as a co-parent, it’s completely understandable that you’d be anxious about the appropriateness of your child(ren) meeting and spending time with your ex’s girlfriend(s)/boyfriend(s). In fact, it’s not uncommon to hear questions, such as,
“Is my ex’s girlfriend/boyfriend allowed around my kids?”
The answer to whether your ex’s new partner can be around the child(ren) depends upon your specific situation. Continue reading to learn when your ex’s partner can and can’t be around your kid(s).
Ex’s New Partner Allowed Around Child
In most cases, the answer to the question above will be, “Yes.” Typically, an ex’s girlfriend/boyfriend is allowed to be around the child(ren) and/or babysit during the other parent’s parenting time.
Why Ex’s New Partner Can Be Around & Babysit Your Kids
The reason why your ex’s new partner can be around the kids is because s/he has parenting time and thus, has certain parental rights. In Minnesota, it’s presumed (absent evidence to the contrary) that each parent is competent to raise the child and make decisions regarding who can be around the child. This is a parental right in Minnesota for parents who have parenting time.
Therefore, as long as the other parent has parenting time, s/he may generally decide who interacts with the child when in that parent’s care, including being able to decide to have a new boyfriend/girlfriend around the kids.
It’s similar to the idea that, unless otherwise specified previously in a divorce decree or custody order, each parent has the right to select a babysitter of his/her choosing for the child during his/her parenting time. Therefore, unless specified differently in your parenting plan, decree, or custody order, an ex could have his/her significant other babysit, as well.
When Ex’s New Partner Can’t Be Around or Babysit Children
There are circumstances when an ex’s girlfriend/boyfriend wouldn’t be allowed around the children.
An ex’s boyfriend/girlfriend can’t be around or babysit your child(ren) if:
1). As mentioned already, your current parenting plan, parenting time/custody order, or divorce decree prohibits your ex’s partner from being around the kids and/or babysitting.
If that’s the case, having the ex’s girlfriend/boyfriend around the kids or babysit would be a violation of your current court order. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to check and know what your current order says regarding the matter.
Or, if you don’t have a parenting plan, decree, or parenting time order, or there isn’t anything written regarding the matter in your current parenting plan, decree or parenting time order,
2). Ex’s girlfriend/boyfriend puts the child(ren) in danger.
However, (and this is very important) even under such circumstances (elaborated below), a court order would still be needed to enforce the restriction.
Circumstances When Ex’s New Partner Could Be Restricted
A judge may decide to restrict an ex’s new partner from babysitting or being around the child, under circumstances when the ex’s partner is likely to:
- endanger the child’s physical or emotional health, or
- impair the child’s emotional development.
(Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 518.175, Subdivision 1, b & Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 518.175, Subdivision 5, 1).
Court Order to Restrict Ex’s New Partner Due to Endangerment of Child
A court order could place restrictions on an ex’s new partner if there is a significant risk that the ex’s boyfriend/girlfriend threatens the child’s physical or emotional health. For example, a judge could restrict an ex’s partner from being around the child, if s/he physically, emotionally or sexually abused the child. In fact, choosing to expose a child to a recently registered sex offender could jeopardize the ex’s custody and parenting time. In addition, a judge may decide a court order is needed to prohibit an ex’s partner from babysitting if the ex’s partner was found driving drunk with the child(ren). Lastly, gross neglect of the children when in the ex’s partner’s care could lead to a court order prohibiting the ex’s partner from babysitting the children.
Court Order to Restrict Ex’s New Partner Due to Developmental Risks to Child
A court order could place restrictions on an ex’s partner if the ex’s boyfriend/girlfriend impairs the child’s emotional development. For example, if the child is particularly young and there is a concern regarding the child receiving conflicting messages regarding who his/her parent is, the ex’s partner could pose developmental risks to the child. In this case, the other parent may try to get a court order prohibiting the ex’s boyfriend/girlfriend from spending the night or being allowed to visit during the ex’s parenting time.
Court Order Restricting Ex’s New Partner
If your ex’s boyfriend/girlfriend endangers your child’s life or development, address the issue immediately. In fact, in Minnesota, if either parent makes specific allegations that parenting time with the other parent places the child(ren) in danger of harm, the court needs to schedule a hearing as soon as possible. (Minnesota Statutes Chapter 518.175, Subdivision 5, D).
However, Minnesota judges have a lot of discretion when it comes to deciding whether or not to restrict an ex’s boyfriend/girlfriend. In addition, it’s not enough to say that the ex’s partner is dangerous, and thus, shouldn’t be allowed around the children. Instead, the other parent is required to show (using very specific examples and facts) how the ex’s partner is dangerous to the child. A family law attorney would be highly advantageous at this point.