If you start worrying about your ex's future partners while you are still in the divorce processes, there may be clauses that your attorney can help you add to the divorce papers to address some of these concerns:
- A cohabitation clause, also known as a morality clause, prohibits both parents from having overnight "intimate guests" while the joint child is under a certain age and unless the parent remarries. Cohabitation clauses often state that child support or alimony payments will end if and when the ex begins cohabitating with a new partner. Divorce court judges will hardly ever approve these unless both parents agree to put this type of clause in effect.
- A "meet the girlfriend" clause is something you can discuss with your divorce lawyer. This type of agreement is better worked out informally directly between the divorcing spouses. However, some final divorce decrees have included clauses that give one parent the right to meet the new serious partner of the other parent. "Serious partner" has to be defined, of course, as does "meet."
- During the divorce proceedings, you may be able to get a temporary order stating something along the lines of "no unaccompanied females shall be in the presence of the joint children while this divorce is pending." These are becoming more rare but have not disappeared from the family courts.
The problem with all of these types of clauses is the same: what do you do if your ex violates? What satisfaction will you get? You could pay an attorney extra fees to take your ex to court for violating the agreement, but you probably won't get much satisfaction. Your ex may get a slap on the wrist and be required to pay your attorney's fees, but the family court judge is unlikely to order a serious financial penalty or change in the ex's visitation rights (unless the new partner is a proven danger to the children).
Except in unusual cases, the better option may be to attempt open and honest communication with your ex about how you want to interact with each other's new partners.
You may find helpful resources at the National Stepfamily Resource Center, which is a division of Auburn University's Center for Children, Youth, and Families.
Contact Pfister Borserine & Associates
At Pfister Borserine & Associates, we have protected the rights of people across north Texas for more than 20 years. Board-certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, attorney John J. Pfister, Jr. understands that every case is different and will take the time to learn the details of your situation. We will then carefully craft an individualized approach to help you get the outcome you want.