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How and When to Introduce a New Partner to Your Children


Making the decision to introduce a new partner to your children is a significant but sensitive step in your journey.

You probably feel conflicted. Feeling happy and excited about your new relationship, but at the same time concerned or anxious about introducing someone new to your children. How will they take it? How will your new partner cope? And will there be a backlash from your ex-partner to contend with?

Our expert Family Solicitor, and Head of the Family Law Team, Donna Amos, shares her insight into the tricky matter of introducing a new partner, following divorce or separation.

No ‘One Size Fits All’

It is important to start by stating the fact that there is not a magic formula to getting this right. All families are different and when and how to introduce a new partner will very much depend on the person’s individual circumstances.

Some things to take into consideration include;

  • How long have you been divorced or separated?
  • How committed is the new relationship?
  • The age of your children
  • The understanding and mental stability of your children
  • The circumstances of your family dynamics

Here are some practical tips for understanding when to make the introduction to a new partner, and some ideas on how best to structure the introduction to ensure that your children are comfortable.

  1. Take Your Time

It can be easy to get caught up in the exciting bubble of a new relationship. Perhaps you have been completely swept off your feet by your new partner and can’t wait to share your happiness with your friends and family. Whilst this is great news, it is important to hold fire until you are certain that this relationship will be long-term. Make sure that you have got to know each other on a deep level, understand what both of your longer-term goals in life are, build a strong foundation and ensure that you are both on the same page about being in a committed relationship.

  1. Maintain Routine

Involving someone new in your children’s life can feel overwhelming for them. Try to make the change or transition slow and steady. Stick to your established routines as much as possible to provide a sense of normality amidst the changes.

  1. Integrate Gradually

Allow the new relationship to develop gradually. Having someone suddenly spend every day with your children can be too much. Instead, slowly build meaningful relationships between your new partner and your children. Find some common interests or activities that they can bond over.

  1. Respect the Feelings of your Ex-Partner

Be mindful that there are various people who will be impacted by the news of a new partner becoming involved in your children’s life. Their mother or father may have some strong feelings about it, which need to be carefully managed. Whilst you shouldn’t have to put your life on hold out of fear of upsetting your ex-spouse, it is important for a healthy co-parenting relationship to minimise conflicts. Consider speaking to your ex-partner before telling your children about a new partner. Think about how you would like to be informed if they were moving on first.

  1. Prepare for Different Reactions

You know your children best, but it can be nearly impossible to predict how they will react. Your children could feel a range of different emotions – they could be happy, excited, anxious, jealous, or resentful. It is important to listen to their feelings and provide comfort or reassurance if they are struggling with the news.

  1. Have Open Communication

Don’t make the introduction and then never speak further. Take time to speak to your children on separate occasions following the first meeting and throughout the following weeks to ensure that they are coping with the changes.

  1. Communicate with your New Partner

There is a lot of juggling to do when introducing a new partner! It is important to also make sure that they are comfortable with how the introduction is going and how they are adjusting to being a part of your family. Express any concerns that your children have in a sensitive way and discuss plans together for how the future months will look.

Navigating the First Meeting

Speak to your children before organising the first ever meeting. It is unfair to spring it on them. Ideally, give them some time to digest the news if they don’t know that you have been seeing someone new.

  • Meet somewhere neutral – not in your family home. Ideally not somewhere that is associated with their mother or father either.
  • Have a planned activity, so there is a focus or distraction. This can help it feel more informal and take the pressure off having to make conversation.
  • Choose a place or an activity that you children enjoy doing.
  • Pre-plan some questions or topics to talk about to avoid any awkward silences.
  • Keep the meeting to a limited time so that the introduction is gradual.
  • Don’t interrogate your children afterwards, let them digest and form their own feelings.

Legal Considerations

If you are thinking about a future together with your new partner, then you may wish to consider your legal position and how best to protect yourself and your children.

Often people who have been through a painful divorce or separation in the past, are cautious about what will happen if things go wrong, and the new relationship doesn’t last. This is where taking things slow can help you ensure that you are embarking on the right relationship.

  • You should re-write or update your Will following a divorce to reflect your new family situation and your wishes.
  • If you are moving in with a new partner, you might want to carefully decide on how best to structure that to reflect any uneven property ownership or how you can leave your assets to your children. This could be achieved via a cohabitation agreement if one person is moving in with the other. Alternatively, if you are combining your finances and purchasing a new home together, a declaration of trust or how you own the property could reflect any uneven financial contributions.
  • If you are thinking about getting married, then a pre-nuptial agreement might be something to consider. This will help you to clearly set out what should happen in the event of the relationship coming to an end. Whilst pre-nups might not be an easy conversation topic, they can provide some clarity and form a solid foundation for your new partnership.

Legal Advice for Moving Forward

Having complete trust and confidence in the future of your relationship is vital before making the introduction to your children.

Finding new happiness following a separation is a wonderful thing, but it is also sensible to be cautious and ensure that you are protecting yourself and your children’s future.

For advice on divorce, children matters or how to protect yourself in a new relationship, please speak to our Family Law Team on 01253 362 500. Alternatively, you can email info@bbelaw.co.uk or complete our enquiry form on our website.

 

The content of this website blog is for general awareness and insight. This is not legal or professional advice and readers should not act upon the information provided, they should seek professional advice based on their own particular circumstances. The law may have changed since this article was published.

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