Regardless of who's idea it was to divorce, seeing your former spouse with a new partner is rarely a pleasant experience. It can be far worse, however, to see your kids growing close to this new person, especially if you are not the one with primary custody. If you're like most parents, you work to put these feelings aside for the sake of your children. The reality, after all, is that your children will be under this person's care for at least some of the time that they spend with your ex. While it's not very likely that you'll become friends, it's certainly possible to be friendly with someone who is a major presence in your children's lives.
Although emotions can be resolved, threats to your children's safety cannot be pushed aside. If, for example, your ex's partner has a criminal record or a substance abuse problem, it's understandable that you would want to look further into these issues. It's important to stay open-minded when asking about, or researching this person's past. On the one hand, a misdemeanor or a DUI from a decade ago does not mean that he or she is currently a danger to your kids. On the other hand, a lengthy history of substance abuse and related arrests may be cause for concern.
Of course, even if you establish that your ex's partner poses a threat to your children's safety, what should be done about the situation is an incredibly complex matter. The courts may intervene if you can show cause through compelling evidence, but keeping this person away from your children is not so easy if he or she lives with your ex. It's not as if the courts can just remove someone from their home, nor can they deny your ex his or her custodial rights by not allowing your kids to visit. The family courts do step in to establish restraints such as not allowing someone to be left alone with the children, or drive while the children are in the car. However, the courts rarely intervene with restraints that place unreasonable infringements on either parent's custodial rights, or on the personal freedoms of the accused party. Thus, it's important to determine the level of imminent danger to your children, and whether realistic measures can be taken to resolve the situation.
What matters at the end of the day is your children's safety, but it can be difficult to separate the facts from our emotions and personal preferences. An experienced family law attorney can help you look at these issues from a rational perspective, which is essential in deciding whether or not to seek court intervention. If you believe that your ex's new partner cannot be trusted with your children, please consider speaking with the family law attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C. Our lawyers can advise you of the available legal options, and whether these options are worth pursuing, depending on your family's unique circumstances.