After a split from a partner where you share a minor child, it is common to be concerned as to who your child may be accompanied by outside of your presence. Many question whether they may seek legal action in order to prevent their former partner from introducing their common child to a new significant other. This question is a sensitive and hotly debated legal concept as parents argue their constitutional rights are being infringed upon with such restrictions. Therefore, such arguments are legally complex and will need to be discussed with your custody attorney to ensure your rights and your child are protected in your specific situation.
When co-parenting your child, you will inevitably run into disagreements regarding your child’s daily and long term care. One of these disagreements may be your co-parent’s new significant other. When first confronted with a disagreement regarding your child’s care, consult your parenting plan for guidance. In some cases, the parties may have previously agreed that only certain individuals may be around the minor child. These individuals generally include family members, close family friends, and those designated for child care. However, in your parenting plan you may also negotiate when a significant other may be introduced to the minor child. For instance, some require the co-parent to be in a relationship for a designated amount of time, or have the other co-parent meet the new partner prior to introducing the child. The terms that you are comfortable with may be negotiated with your co-parent and incorporated into your parenting plan.
However, when such negotiations did not previously occur and discussions regarding the introduction of a significant other with your co-parent have become futile, you may attempt to seek court intervention through a petition to modify your existing child custody order. When seeking a modification, you must provide the court with evidence of a substantial change in circumstances warranting a change in the original court decree. The substantial change in circumstances is a high bar to overcome and requires a great deal of evidence to provide how the modification would be in the best interest of the child. However, courts have allowed a modification limiting the child’s interaction with certain individuals under this standard in some cases.
The court may order a modification and prohibit or limit contact between a child, and a parent’s significant other upon a showing of “competent and substantial evidence” that the contact would have a detrimental effect on the child. Cases where the new partner is a convicted felon, substance abuser, sex offender, or has an extensive criminal record, the court is most likely to award such regulation. When a parent is only able to provide evidence of the substantial time spent with the child, or cohabitation of the new partner, the court is less likely to find a detrimental effect unless further evidence of harmful actions can be provided, such as endangerment to the child’s welfare. One court specifically addressing this issue, held that these restrictions should not overly regulate the private lives of parties and be narrowly tailored Trylko v. Trylko 392 So.2d 1034 Therefore, the evidence must be substantial to provide the court with an understanding of the detrimental effect such contact has on your child.
The ability of having your child in your custody at all times is a difficult hurdle to overcome. This battle can become even more difficult when you are concerned for the safety of your child when they are with their other parent and around individuals whom you do not approve of. If you are concerned about individuals your former partner brings around your child, contact an experienced attorney to discuss your possible legal actions.
Speaking to an attorney at our Pensacola office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at (800) 822-5170 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.