The American Community Survey reports that although the rate of remarriage after divorce has decreased 50% since 1990, men are more likely than women to marry again. Of every 1,000 men, 35.1 married a second time, compared to 19.4 women.
A common concern in these cases is the role of the ex-spouse’s new partner in the lives of the children.
Legal custody and decision-making
Legal custody determines who has the right to make important decisions about a child’s life in the realms of education, healthcare and religious upbringing. In most cases, courts grant this right to one or both parents and do not extend it to a new partner.
Physical custody and visitation
Physical custody, on the other hand, pertains to where a child resides. A non-custodial parent usually has visitation rights that allow him or her to spend time with the child. New partners do not automatically have these same rights because the court’s focus is on the biological parents.
Establishing a relationship with the new partner
While legal and physical custody rights typically remain with the biological parents, fostering a positive relationship between children and a new partner is important. The court may consider the stability and well-being of a child when assessing custody arrangements and a healthy bond with the new partner could be a positive factor.
A new partner can adopt the other person’s child from a previous marriage but both biological parents must consent for the adoption to proceed. However, the new partner may pursue adoption without the non-custodial parent’s consent if he or she willingly gives up parental rights or loses them legally.
Discussing the involvement of a new partner in children’s lives can help prevent misunderstandings and foster a cooperative co-parenting environment. It is important to establish boundaries and expectations to ensure that everyone is on the same page concerning child-rearing.