You have navigated the divorce and managed to sort out the finances whilst maintaining a civil respect. You have agreed the arrangements for the children without solicitor’s intervention. Your co-parenting arrangement is working well, and you and your ex are getting on better now than you have in years. So how do you approach the next step? How do you introduce your new partner without upsetting your ex, unsettling the children and upending all the progress you have made?
Top tips for introducing new partners to children
Experience suggests the following:
- Do not even consider this step unless the relationship has subsisted for several months or longer and you are sure the relationship has longevity. Children may become attached to a new partner and become disconcerted if this person then disappears or is replaced with another.
- However difficult the subject is to raise, I recommend you speak to your ex first. Tell them you have a stable partner you wish to introduce and ask for their support and assistance in raising this with the children. If this is news to your ex, there may be an unexpected emotional response and it is important this occurs away from the children.
- Speak to your children before the introduction, ideally with your ex-spouse, to pave the way.
- Be prepared for the children feeling conflicted. It is not uncommon for children to manage the introduction well, but feel guilty and disloyal for welcoming the new partner at a later stage. Both parents need to ensure the children know they have emotional permission to like and spend time with the new partner.
- Children can feel overlooked if they are used to having your undivided attention so it’s wise to focus on child centred activities with them whilst they adjust to the new setup.
- Children can struggle to express their feelings verbally and disruptive behaviour is a common response with young children. You may need to be more tolerant of this whilst their emotions settle.
For more information on introducing new partners to children and separation please contact our Family Law team on 0161 475 7676.