My husband had an affair. My husband and the woman obviously have questionable moral character and I do not want my kids around them. Can I demand that?
This question comes up frequently in my practice. Generally, your spouse’s affair is not going to have a significant impact on your custody matter. It has been my experience that complaints about paramours being around the children are often based on jealously or hard feelings that have little to do with that person’s actual interaction with your child
ren. In the eyes of the court, parenting and marriage/relationship issues are sometimes compartmentalized into separate issues. Parents who have affairs get custody of or visitation with their own children all the time. As for the person with whom they had the affair, if there are no drug, alcohol, or abuse problems with your spouse’s paramour, there likely will not be a restriction on his or her contact with your child. As a compromise, you could demand is a period of adjustment for your child before any new partners are introduced, such as 12 months after you have been separated. That will give your child a full year to adjust to having his or her parents in 2 different households before a new partner is presented.
Are there any exceptions in North Carolina? In what scenarios would my spouse’s affair affect the outcome of our custody agreement?
If you can prove that the paramour is an actual danger to the child, that is the exception. It should probably be something more than just a blanket statement that the person is obviously lacking in morality because he or she knowingly slept with a married person. Unfortunately, that is not enough. In addition, if your spouse was leaving the child in a dangerous situation in order to engage in the affair, that could have an effect on the custody case. For example, if your spouse took your 2-year-old over to his paramour’s house to have sex and left the 2-year-old unsupervised in the living room while he had sex in another room, that is putting the child in danger.
How do I make it work with my ex’s new partner to protect my kids from more tension?
It is hard advice to give but, if your spouse had an affair and the relationship continues beyond your separation and/or divorce, your best option is to befriend that person. He or she could be spending a substantial amount of time with your child. Much of the fear of a new man or woman in your ex’s life comes from the unknown. Opening the lines of communication may relax those fears and give you some insight into what their interactions are like with your child. I am not saying you have to be best friends but you can fake it. I promise your judge will notice.
Visit one of our experienced family law attorneys if you have questions about your specific situation.
Christine M. Melvin is a family law attorney with Hatcher Law Group. In addition to handling matters of divorce, child custody and property distribution, Chrissy assists her clients with alimony, prenuptial agreements, alienation of affection and criminal conversation, and other domestic related issues.