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Custody concerns may arise when people date after their divorce

Getting divorced in Washington can be a fresh start for both you and your former spouse, as well as your kids. While divorce is difficult for children, with time and care from you and your ex, your kids will adjust to the new family situation. They may even flourish without the strain of a contentious parental relationship constantly impacting the mood in the home.

Shared custody or co-parenting arrangements are the most common outcome in Washington divorces, in part because they are usually best for the kids. Parents have to work to cultivate a positive and functional relationship with one another after ending their marriages, for the sake of the children.

Unfortunately, moving on with your life after a divorce can lead to serious strain on your co-parenting relationship. If either you or your ex has strong feelings about whom the other dates, that could lead to open hostilities and issues regarding custody.

It can be hard seeing your kids connect with a new adult

Watching your ex fall in love with someone new is often uncomfortable, even if you are happy the relationship is over. Feeling like the new person effectively replaces you is emotionally complicated. It's even more unpleasant when you worry that they will try to replace you with the children as well.

This worry is particularly concerning for parents who only have visitation. If your ex's new partner spends more time with the children than you do, couldn't that impact your relationship with the children?

You may find yourself hoping that the Washington family courts will prohibit your ex from bringing their new partner into the lives of the children. Truthfully, that almost never happens.

Situations in which the courts care about post-divorce dating and cohabitation

Generally speaking, even if your ex's new partner spends the night at their home while your children are there or babysitting, the courts won't see that as an issue. The only exception that might result in the courts intervening is if this new person has a history of addiction or abuse.

Anyone who has previously lost custody of their children could potentially pose a risk of neglect or abuse towards your children. If you have documentation that this individual has an abusive or violent past or a current addiction to illegal drugs or alcohol, that may give the court reason to intervene.

However, they may simply modify the parenting plan to prohibit your ex's new partner from spending the night or being left in charge of the children. It is rare that the courts would actually change your ex's right to custody or visitation over a new relationship. Instead of attempting to change the custody arrangement, it may be better to work through your own emotions first.

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