As you and your soon-to-be-ex work out your custody agreement and parenting plan, it’s essential to agree that other adults in your life, both now and in the future, will respect them. That includes new partners as well as grandparents and other family members.
This can be easier said than done when neither of you has yet moved on to a new relationship. However, when one (or both) of you has a new boyfriend or girlfriend or eventually a new spouse, that person can have some strong opinions about how your children should be raised. They may, perhaps with no intended malice, simply take over parenting responsibilities without your knowledge or permission.
One person who has taught and written about co-parenting says that any new significant other needs to respect the co-parenting agreements as well as the co-parenting relationship. They need to encourage that relationship rather than sabotage it.
The parent who has the new partner needs to be careful not to sabotage their co-parent’s relationship with their kids. Sometimes, this happens unintentionally. They may neglect to tell their co-parent about an event like a soccer game, parent-teacher conference or recital and attend with their new spouse or partner. They might list their new spouse as a contact person for their children’s school without their co-parent’s permission.
Things like this might seem minor. However, they can add up — and harm the co-parenting relationship. More importantly, they can harm the children’s relationship with the parent who’s being left out.
If you’re still in the process of working out your custody agreement and parenting plan, you may want to discuss the possibility of including some language around “non-parents” with your attorney. If you’re already dealing with an issue involving your co-parent’s partner or family member, find out what your options are for resolving it.