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My ex, their new partner and our kids – six tips for co-parenting when your ex has a new partner

Mother and three children at airport

Originally published on 28th September 2018 at 10:20 AM

As a single parent, I always knew that my ex would want to introduce his new partner to our children once we were divorced.  When it happened, I went through a rollercoaster of emotions and instinctively I felt protective and defensive. So here’s my story and tips for co-parenting when your ex has a new partner.

I decided early on, to take a positive view and embrace the fact that our children would have another adult in their lives who could eventually provide additional love and support. It was incredibly hard to make that choice but ultimately, it’s a decision that has had a very positive outcome for our children and my co-parenting relationship with my ex.

I believe children can never have enough adult guidance and can gain experiences in so many ways. It’s often said that communities raise children and my experience has shown me that lots of different adult influences are a good thing and not something to fear or avoid.

The hardest thing to accept has been my ex’s partner is able to spend one to one time with each of my children, something I'm still unable to do.

Need some more personalised advice?

With three young children and no family nearby, the luxury of baking a cake or going for cookies and babycinos with one child is out of the question.

Wherever we go, we go as a foursome. This is something I have had to accept and tried hard not to feel jealous about; after all, my children are benefiting from the individual time and I am thankful for that.

Deciding to be positive about the new person in my children’s’ lives has meant that they have followed suit.

If I had been negative, then it would have been difficult for them to build a relationship with my ex’s new partner.

This would have caused difficulties in his new relationship and would have had a knock-on effect on the good co-parenting relationship that we have established. 

It’s not always been easy to feel positive about my ex’s new partner. But some simple ideas have helped me cope and do the right thing. Here are a few simple rules that I think are crucial:

Need some more personalised advice?

Talk to your ex before either of you introduce a new partner.

Plan how and when to tell your children. Make sure your ex is aware it is happening, and they don’t find out from one of the children.

Accept neither of you can stop the other from introducing someone new

(Except in the rare circumstances where there are safeguarding issues). Hopefully, you will be able to talk and agree how and when this happens but if not, try to accept it has happened and move on.

You may want to meet your ex’s new partner, but if that isn’t possible try to trust that your ex will not introduce anyone unsuitable to the children. He or she now has a new life and accepting you have no say over it can be hard.

Never talk in a derogatory manner about your ex’s new partner

Especially in front or in earshot of the children. This is unfair to them as they should be able to form a new relationship with the new person without worrying that you are going to be upset/annoyed with them.

Talk about boundaries.

The new partner will ideally respect you and not overstep the boundaries in their relationship with your children. But this may be hard especially if they do not have children of their own. Try to get a dialogue going with them and talk about anything you feel uncomfortable about. Try not to be defensive – no one will ever take your place in your child’s life.

There will be times when it is difficult, and you want to shout about how unfair it is. Friends are an amazing outlet for this.  Once you have accepted a new person into your children’s lives and welcomed the advantages that this will bring it will massively benefit the entire family.

Everyone is different, but I have found that I can have a relationship with my ex’s partner. Knowing her brings comfort as I know who my children are with when they aren’t with me and I know who they are talking about. Although she doesn’t always get it right, she’s trying and so am I.

If you’d like to talk to someone about how and when to introduce a new partner, or how to bring up the issue with your ex, you can speak to one of our experienced amicable divorce coaches on 0203 004 4695.

Rebecca Jones
Rebecca Jones
Rebecca has a background in family law and has also been through her own divorce. Rebecca is fantastic at offering pragmatic advice and is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to the legalities around divorce and separation.

Comments

My ex (29) is newly involved with a girl (18), despite the fact that he has lied to me about their involvement together and the part she has played in our separation.. I am struggling to come to terms with the thought that he may want to introduce her to our son (18months) purely because of her age. We have not yet discussed boundaries of introducing a new partner but I feel it needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. any advice on dealing with this situation would be appreciated!

posted Anonymous at 20.04.2018 3:27

It can be hard to separate feelings about how your relationship ended with what is happening now… but your child needs you to be able to do this… if you’re struggling then do speak to a counsellor who will help you take back your life and you work through what’s happened. At 18 years old, there can be varying degrees of maturity. Rather than worry about it, try and get some facts about how mature your ex’s new partner is. You can do this by asking to meet her if you think she is likely to spend time with your child. It’s best to do this by speaking with your ex. Explain you want to make a plan about how to introduce your child to new partners. You can agree with your ex that the plan works both ways so for any new partner you may have too. Arrange to meet and discuss how and when introductions will take place. Remember you have no right to block your partner from introducing a new partner (unless you have concerns about your child’s safety) but you should be consulted by the other parent. amicable offers a coaching service to help parents make agreements about introducing new partners – call us on 020 3004 4695 if you’d like more information.

posted Hannah Hodgkinson at 20.04.2018 3:27

So my ex met a new girl and after less than 10 days he has our 4 and 6 year old there for sleep overs I feel it’s to soon as he doesn’t know her she’s a stranger to them all now to add insult to injury shes messaging my daughter 15 on social media and the new girl and my husband are asking the children to keep this from me help

posted Sharon Rowe at 02.08.2018 11:22

Hi Sharon, I believe you spoke to one of our divorce coaches yesterday. I hope they answered all your questions?

posted Hannah Hodgkinson at 02.08.2018 11:22

When the father has a new partner and they buy a house together shouldn’t they inform his sons mummy of the new address? My daughter doesn’t know where her child is?

posted Mrs susan stanley at 20.12.2018 23:05

Me and my husband separated a year ago, he sees our children once a week his choice but at my house, I try to talk to him about maybe now is time to start seeing them away from my house but he will not discuss it, I don’t understand? how can I get him to talk about this as I see this as an important issue, I’m tired of playing happy families when he comes over. He was the one that walked away from our marriage for somebody else. I know nothing of his living arrangements or where he lives neither do our children the whole situation is getting me down but he won’t talk about anything, I just want to move forward and get on with my life.

posted Anonymous at 03.01.2019 19:51

My partner (38) recently decided she was no more happy in a relationship with me. To exit the relationship she started dating this other person who is way older than her (15 years) and specifically told me she was doing it to ensure there is little chance of us working out whatever problems we had. All of this is happening before my very eyes as we are still working out the split of the family home and other details.I have been grieving for a month now because the relationship lasted nearly 11 years. I am trying to be supportive rather than disruptive however I feel she uses my attachment to our 4yo daughter. On several occasions she would leave her with me just so she can be with the new boyfriend and be happy . I understand she shouldn't wait for my grief or my permission to move on with a new partner but the fact she does it so soon and so openly is really hurtful to me. I am even considering moving to another city and cutting all ties to her and my daughter just to escape the pain. I recently found out how they were planning to raise our daughter and are making arrangements for this without even consulting me. I am completely lost

posted Zapryan at 09.03.2019 15:48

My ex and I broke up in November and I moved on recently. I have 2 babies, a son who is 2 and a daughter who is 1. My boyfriend now also has a 2 year old daughter. They have already meant and get along really well. My issue is my ex doesn't want our children around him at all. I'm kind of stuck because he lives in a different state and we both take turns coming to see each other.

posted Nicole ward at 21.05.2019 13:48

My ex and I have a two year old. Our communication has been better than ever lately. He doesn’t see her in person often because he lives in another state, but he video chats with her regularly. I have no problem letting him know when I’m in town so that he can see our daughter and better get to know her. But there’s a bit of a problem... I have this weird aversion to having his current girlfriend/mother of his second child meeting my daughter. I’m feeling protective and defensive and I cannot seem to shake it. Our daughter is supposed to stay the night with him for the first time ever in a few weeks and if I let myself think about it, I get stressed out. I know I’m being silly as I’m sure her father wouldn’t put her in harms way, but I just don’t know how to stop overreacting.

posted Tiara at 17.06.2019 6:23

My ex husband has started dating a girl who is extremely immature and doesn't respect the boundaries i've put out. But my ex hasnt exactly enforced those either. They go behind my back and take our daughter on trips together and just keep everything a secret which feels like he's trying to push me out and replace me with her. In turn i express my frustrations with him about her privately and she takes to social media to express her feelings about me. How do i deal with someone who disrespects me as a parent, my ex doesn't stand up for me or tell her she's wrong.

posted Jenna at 02.07.2019 11:39

I really think we have this all wrong. I don’t think we should be introducing new partners to our children at all unless we absolutely need to & have been with them for at least a year or two & are going to live together or marry and so the children need to know because they come to stay. Otherwise why create another bond that can be broken which equals another chance for a childhood adverse event when the relationship inevitably breaks down. Children are only children for a few years .... if we can’t focus only on them for those few short years and wait till they have flown the nest why did we have them in the first place? I won’t be introducing anyone to mine unless I plan to marry them and certainly not before a year or more. If I was a non resident parent I would introduce anyone unless we were getting married and the child would be stopping over . Children deserve 1:1 time with a non resident parent by shared time with an effective stranger to them. It’s pointless and only serves the adults.

posted Hay at 12.08.2019 19:50

Me and my husband separated nearly 14 months ago. He got a new girlfriend 3 months after we split up. We had arrangements that he had the kids x2 a wk while I worked my nights. All was going well until I asked to meet his girlfriend who had been spending time with my kids, buying them things and in photos together. Since then I have been refused, arrangements have been changed on his behalf that now don't suit me. His girlfriend has refused to meet me until after we are divorced. I'm not happy with this as now I have to further change the arrangements to suit me practical wise and he's threatening me with court. I feel i should be able to meet his girlfriend as she's around my kids. What do you advise I do. Is she allowed to dictate to me about meeting me but seeing my kids? Can he change arrangements then kick off when I do? Thanks, Vicky x

posted Vicky Cooper at 12.09.2019 3:29

Hi, I'm struggling with very strong feelings about the fact that my ex introduced his new partner whit ours 20 month old toddler. Every second day he was attending 2-3 hours in the park whit our child. We where separated 1 year and there are a few months that we are divorced. Im single parent,workin full time mum and so in control. For me is very hard to accept this new person especially when he introduced her without consulting me. He wants to be good father but I think that he is not a good role model becsuse he is so superficial about parenting and about life in general. I red the article and it cleard my head for a moment but deeply Im scared what kind experience thst women has and is she a goid person. I know that he want to be a good dad but inot sure that he will fully dedicate to our toddler when he us whit his new partner. How to relax and embrace that new person in my sons life? Thank you,Merima.


posted Merima at 16.09.2019 19:18

My husband announced completely out if the blue 8 months ago that he had met someone else and left the family home immediately. We choose in the beginning to not tell the children about this other person but he has just decided that now is the time and told them after a very brief telephone call to say this was happening. He failed to tell the children that he was having an affair and left this detail to me to tell them. But I am really struggling with what will be the next step in this process. I hate this woman (or at least what she represents to me, I have never actually met her) and cannot stand the thought of my children being anywhere near her. I don't portray this to the children and although at the minute they feel very strongly they don't want to meet her I do try to reassure them they probably won't feel like this forever. But I just don't know how to manage this myself, how can I work towards accepting this woman will spend time with my children?

posted Annon at 09.10.2019 10:34

Hi, I’ve seperated from my ex husband 6 months ago and he has a new girlfriend of 2 months now, he wants to introduce our 7 and 5 year old to her. The thing is he had an affair with this women in 2014 and is now back with her and I’m finding it very difficult to like the situation of the girls meeting her. It’s taken it’s toll on me and I’m very upset.


posted Laura Jane at 22.10.2019 23:10

My girlfriend and I have been together for 7 months and we were hoping to introduce me to get kids soon. We obviously thought it best to talk to her ex about this but he has become very abusive and threatening. I really don't know where we go from here. At the moment our relationship is stagnating because I only get to see my girlfriend once a week. This seemed like the next logical step. It just seems like her ex is calling the shots here and running out lives. Her kids are 11 and 17.

posted Paul at 28.01.2020 2:47

My ex is with a new partner, we split up and he was with her very quickly afterwards something that was going on before. She has now met my children and they are still together. I still feel very uneasy about her spending time with my kids and I have a massive resentment towards her, I would go as far to say I hate her. I feel like she took everything from me

posted Michelle at 18.02.2020 19:57

I have an issue with my ex's girlfriend yelling at my children. I'm a single mum to 4 boys.. my oldest is 8 and youngest is 2. I find that I am very protective over my children and when they are upset, that makes me upset. I understand that this isn't healthy for my family but I am struggling to accept that this woman is in my children's lives and I can see that it's causing my boys to have problems with her. I need help and advice to get myself in the mind set of helping my boys rather then empathising with them and getting angry and frustrated.

posted Rebekah at 23.02.2020 21:25

My boyfriend is still living full time with his children and his ex. He is having a hard time leaving, because he can't be with his kids everyday and that it is going to hurt his relationship with them. What is the easiest way for him to transition into doing this and making it as painless as possible?

posted Laura at 25.02.2020 4:44

This story is beautiful, but my one is hard to get out of. My ex is marriage and children don’t even expect their father have someone what about marriage. I don’t know what and how to tell them. He is visiting them once a month . He is not supporting me , not communicate , not asking questions about kids, it looks like she stop him from beeing even close to them. And now he stop to pay me because he is saying have no money. I have 4 children with him 3 , it is difficult really sometimes is really to emotional all arround and I can’t tell no one because have no one from my family here . I don’t want to hurt them that’s why I’m trying to find out how to tell them about the situation. I think 8 years old twins should know because the little one 3,5 not really will understand :-( . Could you please maybe give me some suggestions how to deal with this sytuation.?


posted Beata Venugopal at 27.02.2020 16:05

That is great that yall have a relationship like that im in the same situation but my ex gf she just started dating this new guy but he is a drunk and a drug attic 4 days ago and he has already moved in and im just going nuts worring about my 2 and 4 year old sons

posted Larkin B Jones at 16.04.2020 16:50

Hi,

I’ve been with my partner 12 years, he’s cheated on me 3 times with different women, I recently found out about the third which was from 8 years ago whilst I was carrying our 2nd child and for the first few weeks he was born. I fell out of love with him when I found out which I thought was the 2nd time when in fact it was the 3rd time when he was messaging other woman asking for sexual pictures and sending pictures of himself whilst I was pregnant with our 3rd child, 3 years ago. Back in Oct 2018, I met someone at work that I was instantly attached too and intrigued by. He worked for months to get to know me despite all my emotional defensive walls I have. I separated from my partner in the Dec 2018, he took it really badly. It came out in the Feb that I had cheated on him, I moved out from the family home and I came back every other night to have my boys. I then got my own place in April but moved back to the family home in Oct as I was in so much debt and felt it was highly unfair that he was still in the family home with the children. From Feb to even now he has called me a bad mum, made me feel guilty and done everything in his power to end the relationship I started with the guy from work and get me back home. Whilst all the time he has been with various women and started a relationship with one of the mums from school. He lied about all this as he said he wanted me back and knew it would jeopardise me coming back home to him. I’ve ended up just coming back home as I miss my boys terribly and I mentally can’t get my brain to let go of them and giving them up and not seeing them for half of their lives which is what I would be doing if I left and had to share them with my ex. I won’t be in a relationship with my ex as I don’t love him and I won’t ever get over the betrayal and heartbreak he brought me.


posted Lynne at 17.04.2020 20:53

Hello I am in the process of getting a divorce. My husbands is currently living with his new partner and her 2 children. I am so scared and frightening at the thought of my 2 children meeting them and getting involved in a new family situation which doesn't have me in it. They do know this woman and her children which makes it even more harder for me to accept. I'm dreading the time they come on the phone and tell me everything they have been doing and being a lovely family unit. I know i have to let them do it, its just so horrible and painful.

posted S P at 09.05.2020 12:32

Hi. I've met my ex's new partner and she seems lovely. I've met her around 4 times now but she's starting to take over things like visit arrangements, phoning the kids etc. He doesn't seem to be a point of contact anymore it's all her texting me. Just wondering is this a bit over the top or should I be ok with it? Thanks.

posted Liz at 22.05.2020 9:53

What information should I know about my ex's new partner when they are looking after my child part-time?

posted Daniel at 05.06.2020 2:04

My ex and I were together and within a month found out she was seeing someone else or could have been for a little while now. This someone else has already met her family and lives in the same apartment complex as her. Of course I’m freaking out and don’t get much one on one time either. Hurts that someone just like that sees my daughter more than myself and my ex couldn’t have cared less to tell me any of this and we were just together. It’s been almost two months now and I don’t know what to say or do, how would you approach this ?

posted Mark at 10.06.2020 3:20

I'm in a very similar position with my current ex. He didnt bother to tell me that hes in a relationship with the same women who broke our relationship. Hes had his new partner over his house whilst having our son for the past 3-4 months and didnt console or tell me at any point. I only found out from his new partners ex husband. I honestly dont know what to do with this cuz my ex partner wont sit down, talk about how i feel about all of this or go forward with integrating our son in a slow and steady manner with his new partner

posted Claire-Louise at 26.06.2020 21:58

I believe that I have been super mature in the way that I have handled all of this, but I can definitely admit that I have had immature feelings about my boys meeting the new girlfriend. I have encouraged the boys to talk about her, about their time with their dad and with her. I don't want them to feel like anything is taboo. But sometimes I get the gutwrenching feeling about it, if I'm being completely honest.

posted Michelle at 10.07.2020 19:54

My ex and I got separated and I since met someone else and successfully introduced my kids to him. Now my ex is going to introduce our kids to his new partner. What type of questions should I prep for?

posted Ted at 16.07.2020 16:56

my ex moved out and immediately into a "houseshare" with his "new partner" and her 7 year old daughter - he also immediately moved our 2 kids (boys 10 and 12) in with them as part of an earlier 50 50 agreement - that I want to now revoke. The kids don't know about the relationship. I'm devastated he has done this - any advice??

posted m at 19.07.2020 8:46

My ex-wife (35) has been hiding a boyfriend. For the last 2-3 months, while having him spend the night and be around my son (6) without me knowing. I called to talk to my son and he told me over the phone the guy was there. She says her bf has opinions matter just as much as mine. And that she’s sorry that I found out that way but she’s done nothing wrong.

I don’t know anything about this person and she said it’s none of my business and it’s her life.


posted Sharod Croom at 06.08.2020 3:55

I’m now in a committed relationship. I have an ex with whom I get along with but did not when we were together but I’ve managed to separate the toxicity that developed in that relationship from my life now moving on so there hasn’t been any issues. My ex is aware I’m in a relationship and we do very well not discussing our personal lives other than the well being of our son with whom we verbally agreed to each have 7 days on and 7 days off and it works for us and has worked since he was born (6 years old now). My concern is my current gf finds it suspicious or strange that I would rather not have her communicate with my ex unless obviously there was an emergency but she feels she should since my son is young and my ex may need us when he is with her during her week which is true but for some reason I think about the ugliness of that relationship way back when and I guess there is some insecurity there letting someone from the past that caused a lot of pain to communicate at all with someone I’m in love with in the present. I’m not even sure if that makes sense. Struggling with this.

posted Bryon at 09.09.2020 2:03

We have been separated for 7 months .. I have been dating my new partner for 6 months .. the divorce hasn’t been finalized in court yet . I want to introduce my daughter of 9 years old to my new partner . She is a keeper so we’re ready . Is this ok to do ??

posted Kyle Stoterau at 05.01.2021 15:43