As daunting as it seems, hopping back into the dating pool after a divorce can be liberating. If you’re in a new relationship that’s starting to take off, you may even be excited to introduce your new partner to your children.

Unfortunately, your ex-spouse may not be as thrilled, and in some cases may bring custody back to trial.. Fortunately, the odds are in your favor regarding your freedom to date and co-parent, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t scenarios that could possibly disrupt your custody arrangement.

It’s uncommon for a court to prohibit either parent from introducing new partners to their children, although in some circumstances there may be a ban on overnight guests while the children are present (which would lift upon marriage). However, if your former spouse does decide to take you to task in court for the decision to allow a new partner to cohabitate with you, these are some scenarios which could impact your custody:

  • Your partner has a history of abusing drugs or alcohol, a criminal record, or domestic violence. If your child’s co-parent can prove this in court, your custody and visitation rights could be limited.
  • Your partner’s presence could possibly bring harm to the child. A smoker, for example, might simply be banned from smoking on the premises or when the child is present, if that child has asthma or another condition affected by cigarette smoke. However, this factor could weigh into an overall decision.
  • Your relationship with your new partner is visibly tumultuous. Constant fighting, breaking up and reuniting, and other destabilizing behaviors can affect whether a court decides to disrupt your custody arrangement. Children need a stable environment, and a judge may determine that you and your partner are not providing one.

Ultimately, it’s not likely that you’ll lose custody because of a new partner, unless the circumstances are extreme. Don’t let a contentious divorce frighten you out of dating, but do be aware that certain circumstances that could bring your custody into question.