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Custody and a new spouse: Can your ex block parenting time?

On Behalf of | May 7, 2024 | Family Law

Moving on after a divorce can stir up a whirlwind of emotions. One concern that often arises for divorced parents is how a new relationship might impact their children’s existing custody arrangements.

You might find yourself entering a new relationship, and naturally, you’ll want to introduce this special person to your children. But what happens if your ex-partner objects? Can they legally prevent your children from spending time with your new spouse?

Understanding custody agreements in Indiana

State courts typically establish parenting plans that outline children’s physical care and decision-making responsibilities after a divorce. These plans can be created through negotiation and mediation or by the court if an agreement cannot be reached.

Physical custody stipulates where the child lives and spends the majority of their time. Legal custody defines the decision-making authority regarding the child’s upbringing, including education, healthcare and religious activities.

Essentially, if you and your ex share parental responsibility, both of you have the right to make decisions regarding your children’s upbringing, including who they spend time with. Therefore, your ex cannot unilaterally block contact with your new spouse. However, they can raise concerns if they believe the new relationship poses a threat to the children’s well-being.

Can your ex block parenting time with your new spouse?

Generally, your ex cannot solely prohibit your children from spending time with your new spouse unless there’s a legitimate concern about the child’s safety or well-being. Therefore, if your current parenting plan doesn’t explicitly address your new partner’s interaction with your children, your ex cannot use it to block parenting time.

However, suppose your ex has credible evidence that your new spouse poses a threat to your child’s physical or emotional safety (e.g., history of abuse, criminal record). In that case, they may petition the court for restrictions. However, the burden of proof lies with your ex.

In rare cases, a judge may limit contact if the new spouse’s presence is demonstrably detrimental to the child’s emotional well-being. This could involve factors like excessive conflict between the ex and the new spouse that negatively impacts the child.

If you have concerns about your ex’s attempts to restrict your children’s interaction with your new spouse, seeking legal counsel can help you understand your options. A legal team can offer personalized guidance that corresponds with your unique situation and help you navigate the legal process effectively.