Family lawyers are often asked about their clients’ right to restrict their former partner from exposing the children to a new partner following the relationship breakdown. In some cases, such exposure can have a damaging effect on the children and therefore many clients seek some remedy to protect their children from it. However, a mere introduction to a new partner is not sufficient to argue that the child is being harmed; these arguments must be carefully approached.
Although the scope of redress is narrow, there are a number of solutions that a client may opt to pursue both in regular family proceedings and child protection proceedings if they have concerns that their former partner’s behaviour may have a negative impact on the child.
One option a client may pursue is to minimize, albeit not eliminate, the time that the child spends with the former partner in order to restrict the exposure that the child has to the new partners. This would be done through a court order to vary the current parenting arrangement. For an order such as this to be successful, judges would consider several factors with regard to the best interest of the child.
If the child begins to demonstrate troubling behaviour following access with a former partner and their new partner, a court may order that any access moving forward be supervised and not take place with the partner’s new ‘family’. In cases such as this, the court may request that a qualified professional, such as the Office of the Children’s Lawyer, become involved to make recommendations as to what is in the best interests of the child.
On the more serious side of the spectrum, if there is a risk that the child is being exposed to abuse or inappropriate behavior due to a new partner, there may be child protection concerns to consider. In such a case, the Children’s Aid Society would get involved and potentially launch an investigation, which can be complex and extensive. You should contact a lawyer as soon as possible to help you navigate the process.
*The above is drafted by Soica Law Professional Corporation and not intended as legal advice.