When it comes to setting up a child custody agreement with your former spouse or romantic partner, the court will usually ratify the arrangement without factoring in each parent’s current or future living arrangements, unless a concern is raised by one of the parents. If you are living with a new partner, you don’t necessarily have to address it when determining custody. However, if concerns are raised about others living in your home, a court will look at the nature of those concerns.
Ultimately, child custody decisions come down to what is in the best interests of the children. To that end, the main reason your new living arrangement could impact your right to custody or visitation is if that arrangement — or your new partner — could somehow endanger your kids. If, for example, your new partner has a criminal record or has a documented history of domestic abuse, it would likely raise a big red flag in the eyes of the court. The same could be true if the physical condition of your house or apartment is deemed unsafe.
A court may also factor in how long the parties have been separated and whether an immediate introduction of the new partner would be detrimental to the children. It is generally advised that you wait until a relationship moves beyond the initial stages of dating to introduce the children to the new significant other. This helps to avoid the pitfall of the children becoming attached to a new significant other that may not be in the picture long-term.
The bottom line is that you should do everything you can to show both your former partner and the court that you are acting in the best interests of your children. If there is any reason to believe that your new living arrangement could negatively affect your right to custody or visitation, it may be prudent to consider other options before you begin negotiating with the other parent.
To learn more about issues related to parenting time, visitation and child custody in Minnesota, consult a dedicated family law attorney at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A.
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