New Partners and Co-Parenting

It can be jolting when your former spouse or partner has a new partner regardless of how long you have been divorced or separated. In general, men tend to remarry much faster than women. A new partner entering your child's life is frightening, as this person could play a prominent role - and men tend to allow new partners to play a larger role faster. New partners may form tight bonds with your child or children quickly, especially young children. He or she may play a decisive role in your child's life can truly be a bonus for your family.

Everyone will have to adjust to the new paradigm. Here are a few simple rules to follow:

  1. Talk to your ex before either of you introduce a new partner. Plan how and when to tell your children. Make sure your ex is aware - DO NOT allow your ex to find your child.
  2. Accept neither of you can stop the other from introducing someone new. Hopefully, you will be able to talk and agree how and when this happens, but if not, try to accept it and move on.
  3. You may want to meet your ex’s new partner, but if that isn’t possible try to trust that your ex will not introduce anyone unsuitable to the children. He or she now has a new life and accepting you have no say over it can be hard.
  4. Talk about boundaries. The new partner will ideally respect you and not overstep boundaries with your children. Try to get a dialogue going with him or her without being defensive.
  5. You may want to shout about how unfair it is; confide in your family and friends - don't take it out on your ex and/or the new partner.  Once you have accepted a new person into your children’s lives, and welcomed the advantages that this will bring, the expanded family benefits.

It may be hard to know that your child feels affection towards your co-parent's new partner. Don't discourage your child's affection to the new partner. If you can recognize that this person has your child's best interest at heart, support this positive relationship. To the extent possible, appreciate the additional love and support in your child's life, especially when you can't be there.