Roughly five out of ten first marriages will end in divorce and for second and third marriages, the risk of divorce is even greater. That’s a lot of divorced folks in the dating pool. In fact, so many people are divorced that it would be difficult to find someone age 45 who was never married or never had kids.
Because of the high percentage of divorcées, it’s common for divorced singles with kids to be on the market. For the divorced parents, whenever they meet someone of interest they will probably want to know if the other person has ever been married and if they have children – these questions are completely normal!
Suppose you are the single divorced parent. Join the club, everywhere you look you have company. But what if you find someone special and he or she loves you unconditionally. You fall in love and before you know it, you’re in a deeply committed relationship.
In a flash, you’re signing a lease together or co-singing on a mortgage and shopping for furniture together at Pottery Barn. Things couldn’t be better until...you discover that your child from your previous marriage does not approve of your new romance.
Maybe your partner (or even fiancé or new spouse) is doing their best to embrace your child and love them as their own, but all your child keeps saying is that he or she is not their parent, or your child just won’t give them a chance. On the other hand, perhaps you love and adore them both, but they do not get along. What do you do? You’re definitely stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Child Custody Concerns to Be Aware Of
If you have sole custody of your child, you should not have to worry about child custody, but you will have to worry about the relationship between your child and the new man or woman in your life. If you are married to your new love, it may be a good idea to seek help from a family counselor, a therapist, or even someone from your church (if applicable).
If your child is truly unhappy, it’s important to ask yourself if this person is actually a stable, loving influence. If he or she is verbally or physically abusive toward you or your child, your child is right to feel the way that they do and it’s critical that you find a safe way to end the relationship while protecting your family.
What if My Ex Wants Custody?
Let’s say you have been the custodial parent and your ex has been paying your child support. But now, your child can’t stand your new boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse and he or she is begging or threatening to move in with their other parent. Not only that, but your ex thinks the living situation is unhealthy and wants to take you to court for custody. Do you have a say in the matter? What will happen?
Related: Can Dads Win Child Custody?
For starters, as long as your ex has parental rights and your child is under the age of 18, he or she can go back to court and seek custody of your son or daughter. But will they win? If you fight it, a judge will have to decide on the matter. When deciding if your child should be allowed to move in with your ex husband or wife, the judge will ask these questions:
- How old is your child?
- How mature is your child?
- What are your child’s reasons for leaving?
- What are your wishes?
- What are your ex’s wishes?
- Are you living with your new partner?
- Are you remarried?
- What is your new partner’s character like?
- Does your new partner have a criminal record?
- Does your new partner abuse drugs or alcohol?
- Has your partner been convicted of domestic violence?
- Is your new partner a registered sex offender?
- Are you providing for the basic needs of your child?
- Is it in your child’s best interests to stay with you?
- How far would your child move away?
- How likely would you be able to continue seeing your child regularly if he or she were to move?
- Can your ex provide for your child?
- Are your child’s reasons for moving out valid, or are they irrational or based on having “no rules” or receiving material rewards from the other parent?
Best Interests of the Child Doctrine
At any time before a child turns 18 in California, the parents can go back to court asking for a modification to the standing child custody order. If your son or daughter does not like a new boyfriend or girlfriend, or even a new spouse and they convince the other parent to let them move in, your ex can take you back to court. Will you lose?
There is no guarantee either way because it’s very fact specific and depends on the unique circumstances of the case. Is it possible that the child will be allowed to move? Yes, absolutely. But in all situations, the judge will review the facts of the case and make a decision that is in the child’s best interests.
“Will my child be able to decide if they are 12 or older?” Even when children are older, that doesn’t give them the power to choose. Ultimately, child custody decisions are always up to the judge, but judges are interested in hearing the child’s wishes for sure and they will be carefully considered.
If you need questions answered about a child custody issue, we encourage you to contact our firm to meet with a Los Angeles child custody attorney for free.