Adults who share custody often fight about matters that affect their children, and the conflicts that develop can do damage to the co-parenting relationship while simultaneously stressing out the children. The more people plan to successfully navigate likely sources of conflict, the easier it will be for the whole family to adjust to new co-parenting arrangements.
One of the more challenging issues that arise when parents of minors end a relationship involves decisions to move on to a new one later. Can a parent seek to prevent the other parent of their children from introducing a new love interest to the children or letting that person provide child care?
Parents generally control their own parenting time
As hard as it can be for people to accept, one adult has very little control over what the other does during their parenting time. Provided that they do not expose the children to unnecessary risk and meet their needs, parents can do whatever they personally believe will be in the best interest of the children.
That could very well include introducing them to a new romantic partner. Some people will even rely on new boyfriends and girlfriends as a source of child care. Although some adults hope that the courts would limit the access of new romantic partners, particularly if the relationship started as an extramarital affair, that is not what the family courts in Texas typically do.
The only time the courts would intervene to prevent someone from interacting with the children would be in a scenario where that person is an obvious source of risk. If someone begins dating an individual with convictions for child abuse or similar violent offenses on their record, it could be possible to ask the court to limit their access to the children for their safety. Otherwise, parents concerned about a new romantic partner will have few options.
One of the possible ways of limiting the involvement of outside individuals in the upbringing of the children in the family would involve including the right of first refusal in the parenting plan. That way, if one parent is not able to spend time with the children, they would need to give the other the opportunity to take them before leaving the children in the care of any outside party.
Some adults will also agree ahead of time when negotiating a parenting plan to include rules restricting the introduction of new romantic partners to the children. The strong opposition that adults may have to the involvement of a new romantic partner may stem from their personal feelings of rejection related to the divorce, which might be an indication that they would benefit from counseling to work through those feelings.
Understanding how the Texas family courts will handle a dispute about the involvement of a new boyfriend or girlfriend in the lives of children may help those navigating this stressful situation respond more appropriately.