The divorce process can be difficult, and most couples are understandably eager to be done with it. But the challenges don’t always end when the divorce settlement is final. Navigating life as a newly single person can bring on a whole different set of issues, especially if you have children. Our Michigan child custody lawyer has spent decades helping divorced parents resolve complex legal issues, and can offer a few tips for dealing with dating after divorce.
Wait Until the Divorce is Complete to Date
For some couples, their relationship has been irretrievably broken for long enough that they’re ready to begin dating as soon as they file for divorce. While it is not illegal to date during your divorce, it can open you up to additional legal challenges or conflicts, and so it is best to be avoided. Dating immediately after the divorce process begins may give support to claims of adultery during the marriage. Though you may not be concerned with how your ex feels about your choice to date, provoking them into drawing out the divorce could cause more problems for you in the end.
Understand the Basics of Michigan’s Child Custody Laws
In addition to making your own choice about when to date again, you may have to deal with a co-parent who chooses to introduce their new partner to your children. This situation can raise a lot of new and conflicting emotions, and before taking any action it can be helpful to understand how Michigan’s child custody laws work.
When divorced parents share in legal custody of their child(ren), Michigan’s child custody statute provides that they have equal rights and responsibilities with respect to important decision-making. By granting joint legal custody, the judge empowers each parent to make such decisions – including allowing a new boyfriend or girlfriend to be around the kids. So while you may not be pleased with your ex’s actions, your options for responding are likely limited, unless you have good reason to believe your child is in a potentially harmful situation.
Know When to Act on Your Concerns
When your ex chooses to bring a new romantic partner into their home or spends significant time with them while your children are present, you no doubt will have concerns about the impact of this individual on your kids. The key to knowing whether or not to do something about it is the level of concern. Having a “bad feeling” about someone is very different from circumstances in which your children are at risk of harm. Be sure to carefully assess your own emotions and the evidence available before acting on your concerns.
Request Modifications to Parenting Time if Needed
When concerns about your ex’s dating habits or living arrangement motivate you to make changes, you will need to go through the process to legally modify child custody. There are two important points to note on modifications:
- There must be proper cause or a substantial change in circumstances to justify a modification to child custody.
- When proceeding on the grounds of proper cause, you need evidence showing how the current child custody situation pertains to one of the 12 factors listed in the Michigan statute on the child’s best interests.
When a custody modification request is based upon the presence of your ex’s new partner, you need to prove how this person contradicts the child’s best interests. Evidence of moral unfitness, domestic violence, threats or verbal abuse, excessive use of alcohol, or drug abuse is powerful in a custody modification case.
You Can Rely on a Michigan Child Custody Attorney for Help
There are always challenges to overcome when you or your co-parent begin a new relationship, but legal action may be necessary if your child’s best interests are threatened. Your attorney can assist with such tasks as:
- Assessing the strength of your claim;
- Explaining the legal criteria for custody modifications;
- Filing the petition to modify custody;
- Representing you during mediation if ordered by the court;
- Advocating on your behalf at a contested hearing on child custody modification, where you will have the opportunity to present evidence and witness testimony.
To learn more about how we can assist with custody disputes, please contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins. We can set up a consultation with a skilled lawyer who can advise you on Michigan child custody laws.