When you’re ready to get back into the dating game, what are the rules? What if my children are at home?
Can My Girlfriend or Boyfriend Spend the Night After the Divorce Transcript
Can my girlfriend or boyfriend spend the night after I’m divorced? Well, reasonable question, and I will tell you that practically every person that I’ve ever represented has asked me that question at one point or another. You were married. You were separated for at least a year. Now you’re divorced. You’re ready to get back into the game. Let’s deal with whether that’s okay or not.
Now, you’ll notice that the question is, is it okay after I divorce. If you’re not yet divorced, then it’s a very different situation, and there’s other information on the site that will help guide you through that. Also, it really doesn’t make much difference if somebody sleeps over after your divorce if the children are not around. If the children are not at home, then it’s no big deal. What we’re really drilling down on today is whether it’s okay to have a boyfriend or girlfriend spend the night after your divorce if the children are home.
First of all, there may be legal prohibitions against having someone sleep over. You may have put a provision and agreed to it in your separation agreement that says that there will be no sleepovers while the children are present. If that’s the case, then sleepovers can’t occur. You may also have a court order where the judge specifies that sleepovers are not to take place. Again, if that’s the case, no sleepovers for you. You need to eliminate those legal issues first.
Then we need to look at the emotional issues. Look, if you have a sleep over, and if your former spouse finds out about it, you can expect a certain level of fireworks. This is a trigger for a lot of people. When they find out that you’ve got someone new in your life and that they’re spending the night, you can expect some upset.
Now, is that a problem? Well, it may be if you’re in the middle of custody negotiations or litigation, or if you’re afraid that the sleepover will trigger that issue, that it will come back up again. So be very cognizant of that, because if you have a sleepover and if the kids are around, you’re going to get a reaction, and the evidence of what happened at home, how the kids were affected by the sleepover may become important as you go through that process again.
Then finally, and this is really important, if you’re receiving alimony, a sleepover may start to look like cohabitation, and cohabitation is usually an end to your alimony. Not every sleepover is cohabitation, but if it starts to happen on a regular basis, if it starts looking like this person spending the night is living there, then you’re going to have an issue with your alimony coming to an end.
What should you do after considering all of that information? Well, here’s my advice. First of all, be sure that there’s no legal prohibition against a sleepover. If you’ve got provisions in your court order or your separation agreement, then just don’t do it. It’s not worth the legal fallout. Have sleepovers when the children are not present. Then you won’t have a problem.
Finally, if you’re going to have sleepovers and if the children are going to be present, then do it in a mature orderly disciplined way. Don’t do it with the first person you meet. Don’t do it after the first or second date. Only have sleepovers where you have a long term relationship that’s really turning into something that’s going to last.
Introduce your children to the person that’s sleeping over in advance. Build that relationship. Don’t just surprise them. Don’t be sneaky about it. Don’t have somebody coming in late and leaving early and having the children discover it accidentally.
Keep your children in a routine. Don’t change the system at home because somebody else is spending the night. You know, we’ve all got our bedtime routines with brushing the teeth and tucking the kids in and all of that. Stick to the routine. Don’t let this new person disrupt life for those kids. If you do all of that, then sure, you can have a sleepover, and you can make it work in your life and in your relationship and in your family.