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Can Dating or Cohabiting Ahead of Divorce Affect Child Custody?

Some argue that to give yourself the best chances of retaining the custody rights of your child/ children or at least enjoy visitation rights equal to your ex-spouse, it is better to avoid dating or cohabiting before the divorce settlements are finalized. How far is it true? This post aims to analyze that.

Give your child some time to adjust 

You must understand that under the California laws, courts must prioritize the welfare of the children above everything else. So, whatever the judge decides will be from a point of concern for the protection of interests and rights of the child. A child often goes through an emotional turmoil when he sees his parents feuding or wrangling frequently and then sees them divorcing and separating from each other.

In addition, if one or both the parents start dating, seeing or cohabiting someone who is also vying for the attention of their parent, they can get confused, angry and develop a deep sense of resentment not only against the new partner but also against the parent. That might scare them away into the arms of the other parent. Many courts ask for the opinion of the child (especially older ones) when deciding and sealing their fate. If the court sees that the child themselves want to stay with one parent in particular, they might take that into consideration and even limit the visitation rights or contest the joint custody rights.

Some factors that might affect your chances of retaining the custody of your child:

  1. Your current dating habits and past dating records could determine whether you are suitable to be the primary caregiver of your child: Not only will your past dating records be analyzed but if you have already started dating or cohabiting with someone before your divorce has been finalized can come under the glare and will be questioned, if there is even a little doubt that your dating habits are coming in the way of providing proper care to your child.
  2. The past of your new significant other can come under the scanner: If the court feels that the child might come into regular contact of your new partner and they might spend a lot of time together, the lawyer of your ex-spouse may try to bring to the fore the questionable past of your new significant other (may be cases of domestic violence). In addition, if the child themselves show a lack of positive feelings towards the person in question, it could hurt your chances.
  3. Speak negatively of the other parent in front of the child: Although you may not share a cordial relationship with your ex- or getting romantically involved has made them more jealous, that may not justify your frequent ranting against them, especially in front of your child. The court would consider whether your tirade or behavior is leaving a scar on his tender mind. 

Always keep the best interests of your child in mind before getting into a new relationship. Give them time to adjust before introducing them to your new romantic interest. Also, get the approval of your ex-partner, before introducing your current partner to your child and always ensure that your relationship doesn’t come in the way of your ability to provide adequate care to your child. That will increase your chances of getting custody of your child.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

divorce_attorneyGerald A. Maggio is an experienced Orange County divorce and family law attorney and family law attorney located in Irvine, California, serving the Orange County and Riverside areas. Mr. Maggio assists clients with legal issues including divorce, legal separation, divorce mediation, child custody, prenuptial agreements, stepparent adoptions, and other family law issues. Mr. Maggio has practiced law in California since 1999, and founded The Maggio Law Firm in 2005, focusing exclusively on divorce and family law matters.

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