Info & Advice

Can I stop my children meeting my ex’s new partner?

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There is no specific law or guidance around the issue of introducing a new partner to your children. And it is entirely understandable why you would feel uncomfortable or upset about the idea. The thought of having someone you don’t know or trust interacting with the children and possibly taking on some aspects of parenting can induce extreme anxiety. But unless your ex’s new partner represents a danger to the children, then it is extremely unlikely that you will be able to prevent them from meeting one another. So are there any valid reasons to stop your children meeting your ex’s new partner? This article discusses all the issues in more detail.

What are my rights as a parent to stop my ex introducing their new partner to the children?

If your ex wants to introduce their new partner to the children, the first thing to think about is your rights as a parent. Provided you have parental responsibility, then you have the right to be involved in key decisions about their upbringing.

That said, who your child is being introduced to is unlikely to be considered a key decision if the matter went to court. Ultimately, this means that unless you have a specific reason, such as the individual in question posing a real risk of serious harm to your child, then you are probably not likely to be able to stop them meeting.

If you do not have any specific concerns relating to your child’s wellbeing or safety, then it may be possible to agree with your ex to delay the introduction, or to do so gradually instead. Many divorcing and separating couples prefer to delay introducing new partners to their children until they are certain the relationship is serious. This might help avoid overwhelming or confusing the children at a time when so many changes are taking place. It will also give you the space and time to get used to the idea.

What are valid reasons to stop my ex introducing their new partner to the children?

If you are concerned that your ex’s new partner could harm your child, you should take steps to stop your ex from introducing them. You would need to demonstrate the specifics of your cause for concern, and a court would generally need to see evidence supporting the claim that the person in question poses a risk.

Examples of the type of situation where you may be able to convince the court that someone poses a risk is if they are a drug user or have a history of sexual offences or violence, especially if they involve children. If the individual has a criminal record related to any of these offences, then it is likely to be easier to get a court order that they should be prevented from having contact with the children.

You can ask your local police station under Claire’s Law if you believe your ex’s new partner has a record of violent offences, although, in reality, this is often far from straightforward. You can also find out if your ex’s new partner is a sex offender using Sarah’s Law. This scheme makes it possible for anyone to formally ask their local police force if someone with access to a child has a record of committing child sexual offences.

How can I legally stop someone from meeting my child?

Getting an agreement in writing can help to clarify the situation about this issue as well as giving you something to refer to at a later date, if necessary. Something to consider is that any agreement about introducing new partners to children will need to cut both ways, so you would have to stick to the same rules. Although unless ordered by the court, it will not be a legally binding agreement.

If you need to stop your children being around someone because of safeguarding concerns, a voluntary agreement is unlikely to be sufficient. In that case, you would need to apply to court for a prohibited steps order which can prevent a parent from taking a particular action.

Can I demand to meet my ex’s new partner?

Whilst you cannot demand it, meeting your ex’s new partner is a sensible idea. Not only can it dispel any concerns you may have, but it also goes a long way to building a sensible and adult relationship with your ex going forward. Depending on how old your children are, both parties need to accept there will always be a connection in some form or another, and for the rest of their lives.

What are the consequences of preventing my children meeting my ex’s new partner?

Unreasonably preventing your child meeting your ex’s new partner could have a negative impact on the time they spend together, particularly if your ex starts living with their new partner. It could mean that your children can no longer spend time at the other parent’s house, damaging their relationship and causing your child distress.

This could begin to negatively affect your child’s wellbeing and, if they see you as responsible, harm their relationship with you. If the situation causes increased tension between you and your ex, this is also likely to impact your children and harm their wellbeing.

If the situation continued and affected contact, your ex-partner could make an application to the court, arguing that your behaviour is harming the children. Here, a court is unlikely to be sympathetic to anyone who is attempting to prevent contact unless they have a specific reason relating to safeguarding or their child’s wellbeing.

Conflict between parents is rarely in a child’s best interest, so they should do everything they can to avoid conflict where possible. Prioritising early legal advice and alternative dispute resolution such as mediation can help resolve the matter without having to go to court, and also minimises the risk of any negative emotional fallout for the children. If you need further advice about your legal position, please review our solicitor listings.

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