Parents move on after divorce, and many remarry. Remarriage should not affect custody or visitation order, but sometimes it does. From a legal standpoint, the question is not whether parents get along with each other's new spouses, but rather how the new spouses affect the children.
Remarriage of a Custodial Parent
The remarriage of a custodial parent typically has the greatest effect on children because a new person has entered their everyday environment. If they get along well, this can be a good thing. If the relationship with the new stepparent is difficult, it may be grounds for a change of custody. If the new spouse is cruel, abusive or neglectful, courts will often consider revising a custody order.
Remarriage of the Non-Custodial Parent
If you did not request or receive custody of your children in a divorce, your remarriage can change the picture in a positive way. If your home life is now more stable and welcoming than it was when you divorced, most courts will give you additional visitation with your children if you ask. Courts usually won't change a custody order altogether unless you can prove both that your new home is an improvement and that a negative change has occurred in the home of the custodial parent.
Your Child Might Refuse To Visit
When a non-custodial parent remarries, it can have a big impact on visitation if the children don't like the new spouse. If they are not comfortable with the new stepparent, children can put up quite a fuss about visiting. Older children might outright refuse to visit. Courts are not likely to end visitation, as laws favor contact with both parents. But, if the children insist, a judge might order that visitation take place outside the non-custodial parent's home and away from the stepparent.
A Change in the Custody Order Requires Proof
Many states will consider the wishes of minor children in custody and visitation decisions but, usually, consideration is all that's required. A judge weighs the children's desires along with many other factors. If you want to change custody because your ex has remarried, you'll also have to give the court proof of negative impact of this change on your children. This can be done by hiring a custody evaluator to talk with your children, or by showing that their grades are dropping or that they've been acting out and misbehaving since the change.
A Divorce Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding divorce, custody and remarriage is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a family law lawyer.
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