This can be a sticky issue for both the ex-spouses and the kids. In our agreements, we include a section that says parents will introduce the kids to a new partner only if they are in a committed relationship. Psychological studies show that it is upsetting to children to meet a stream of new potential mates for their parents, so it is best to have some commitment to the person before bringing him or her around. Still, we leave it up to the parents to decide what “committed relationship” means. And sometimes clients want the relationship to be a specified length – 6 months, one year, etc. for it to count.
We also suggest to our divorce mediation clients, that you give the other parent a heads up before the introduction takes place. This way, he or she will be prepared for any questions or reactions from the children. Often, our clients want to meet the new person too to see whom their kids are hanging out with, though we remind them that they cannot choose their ex-spouse’s new friends, boyfriends or girlfriends.
As divorce mediators, we do not usually address how these meetings should go. However, we do note that many therapists have weighed in on the best way to introduce new partners to your kids, and it would be worthwhile to do some research beforehand to smooth the transition.
For more information on parenting plans or divorce mediation, please contact Randi M. Albert, JD, or Michelle Weinberg, M. Ed., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, at Westfield Mediation, LLC at 908.913.0373. View our website at www.westfieldnjmediation.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.