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Introducing Your Significant Other to Your Co-parent & Kids

If you are interested in announcing this good news to your kids before discussing it with your ex, don’t. Here’s why!
(2 min 35 sec read)

Dave Chartier
A single co-parenting dad, a freelance writer and former syndicated dad blogger with work published in USA Today, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.

A while back, you and your ex decided to break it off. But then you also decided to double-down on co-parenting, which is great but you also had to work through the awkward emotional dance (*at best) of once being in an intimate relationship to being ‘business friendly’ co-parents trying push through all the emotions for the sake of the kids. Perhaps, now you have all found a new ‘two home’ family with a rhythm of its own.

But now you met someone you really like, like ~really-really like.

Good for you. But our knee-jerk response is ‘wait’. Even if you have been divorced for some time, ‘wait’. Wait at least six months. Spend at least six months as an exclusive couple to let things play out.

If you are interested in announcing this good news to your kids before discussing it with your ex, don’t. There is no guarantee you’ll be exciting or impressing them. In fact, you may stress them out that mommy or daddy are being replaced.

I can save you a few minutes of reading and say there are no hard/fast rules as to exactly when you should introduce a new Significant Other to your co-parent, but you do need to discuss it ahead of time. What are the conditions that lead up to the introduction? How long have you been together? How serious is it? These are questions you will need to be prepared to answer and agree upon.

You also have to be in agreement in the order of things. Meaning, you may first agree to discuss first, arrange a first meeting (*without the kids) ~keep it brief and informal. Second, assuming that goes well (*or at least not bad) ~plan a second short meeting with the kids around. Keep in mind all eyes will be on the co-parents to see your response. Meaning, if you’re friendly and cordial ~most likely, they will follow suit. Mind you, there are lots of moving (emotional) parts, keep your expectations low. Keep it brief, and plan on checking in with your kids afterward. No need to make the check-in be labored if they have little to say or are seemingly nonplussed, that is totally acceptable.

Assuming things went smoothly, don’t assume the stage is set for you and your new significant other to start having sleepovers when the kids are with you. Ask yourself, does your divorce agreement have a morality clause in your custody order which might prevent you from having overnights with your significant other when you have the kids. Chances are, if so, your ex may have called it out when you introduced the idea of your (new) significant other to him/her. If this is the case, you may need legal assistance to work through the issue.

Generally, keep the relationship under the radar until things are well established, assuming this is not the first relationship after the divorce and you’re confident he/she is a positive influence around your children. If you are unsure about this, give it more time. The overall MO (modus operandi) should be, ‘take your time’.

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