Date Last Modified: September 6, 2022

The divorce is done, you’ve begun to heal, and you’re ready to meet someone new. You’re ready to get back into the preverbal saddle. This presents a lot of questions – whether the timing is right and how does this affect your family?

It’s a common occurrence with divorce, at some point you or your ex will start dating.  If you have children, extra care should be given when introducing a new significant other. Speaking with a divorce lawyer for a free consultation is a good idea to preserve your agreement. Several things need to be considered when introducing a new person:

Dating After a Divorce: Initial Considerations

There are many things to consider when dating after a divorce. Below are some of the most important things to consider:

  1. Safety
  2. Finality that you will not be getting back together with your ex
  3. The role this new person will play in your child’s life (i.e., marriage)
  4. Do they have children of their own
  5. What does your ex think

Maybe you are the type that doesn’t want to commit to another long-term relationship, or maybe you’re craving the exact opposite and can’t wait to saddle up again.  Whatever situation, when there are children involved, they should always be priority number one.  Dating after a divorce requires extra caution to avoid damaging the children – or yourself – by jumping in too fast and without a plan.

Casual Dating with Children is a No-No

Casual dates should not be brought around children.  For one, having numerous strangers in the house can be confusing, and frankly isn’t safe.  Chances are you’ve only known this person for a short while and don’t know enough about them to risk your child or children falling victim.  Overnight visits with children home are a hard no.  You don’t want a stranger in your house while your children are there.

Keep in mind that almost the number one reason people end up back in court after a divorce is because someone moved a significant other into the kids home too fast. Judge’s hate it – they do not want a kid to witness a parent treating new partners like the home has a revolving door.

Dating Shows Finality (for better or worse)

Dating could also lead to the realization in children that you and your spouse will not be getting back together after all.  At some point or another, if you and your spouse have children that are old enough to remember the “good times,” a part of them will still hold on to the notion that you will get back together.  This realization can be a very hard pill to swallow, when they see you happy with a new person, it can be a crushing blow if they were expecting a different outcome. 

Kids Reactions to a New Partner

You may notice a change in your child’s attitude toward you, or your ex if they are the one that is dating.  They may get jealous of the new person or feel resentment that they are taking you away from them.  Your biggest concern and focus when you start dating must be your kids.  Open communication is a must throughout the divorce process and even well after your divorce has been finalized. 

Everyone’s life looks different now. Your ex could be devastated that you’re dating, and while that may be of no concern to you, your children may pick up on that.  So, communicating with your ex may also be in the cards.  Letting them know you’re dating could help soften the blow.  It would be better coming from you then coming from the kids that mom or dad has been seeing someone new. The ability to co-parent means being honest with your ex, even if that wasn’t what happened during the marriage.

Introducing a New Partner to Your Kids

If you’ve reached the point in your new relationship where you feel comfortable that you know the person well enough to introduce them to your child or children, you’ll need to think about the role this person will play in their lives.  Will this person be a casual acquaintance or someone that you will potentially marry? Will they be attending extracurricular events, or family holidays with you? Will they be assisting you with pick up and drop off?  When you introduce a new person into your child or children’s lives, they will have a reaction of some kind. 

There is also the chance that they become very attached to this new person, and if you break up, it likely will lead to the reopening of old wounds.  While there’s no way to know ahead of time how a relationship will play out, waiting for at least 6-months to introduce someone new to your kids is about the minimum amount of time to wait. Dating after a divorce with kids takes time and requires patience to protect yourself and your children from future heartbreak.

Undoubtedly your ex will have opinions on you or your ex dating after a divorce. Your parenting agreement almost certainly contains specific clauses that significant others are not to be introduced to kids until there is a ring, promise of proposal, or the relationship has gone on for set amount of time (usually a minimum of six-months). 

Additionally, your ex will probably have some thoughts on bringing a new person around their children as well. You will want to set a time for the two to meet, maybe just for a cup of coffee, to get to know each other for 5-10 minutes. Remember that the two of you entered into some sort of a parenting agreement, and that agreement trumps all else.  Even if you’re not on speaking terms with your ex, has a right to what happens to their children, even if you don’t agree with it. 

Dating After a Divorce: Children Are #1

Always remember your children come first. Don’t let past feelings hinder what has been established in a binding agreement. Your Parenting Agreement was established to set the rules when clearer heads can’t prevail, so keep your emotions in check. Dating after a divorce can be done in a responsible manner without damaging the kids. But great care must be taken, and remembering that your children come first will help to keep that at the front of your mind.

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