Taking the plunge . . . again

Marie E. Matyjaszek

I call it jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire when a newly divorced person remarries right after the finalization of his or her old marriage. I can’t understand how someone thinks it’s a good idea to take the same vows that he just dissolved mere weeks earlier. In some cases, the new spouse may not be so “new” because that relationship may have been going on for a while (gasp!).

If an adult wants to make a decision that may not be the best in hindsight, that is his or her choice. However, from a family law standpoint, I truly hope those with children consider how these quick, new relationships impact them.

All children, even if an adult, are affected by their parents’ divorce. Whether they are relieved and think “well it’s about time,” or never saw it coming, their parents’ marriage has already shaped their lives and their future relationships. It can be much healthier for a child to witness two separate but happy relationships instead of keeping the nuclear family intact when there is constant fighting and tension.

That does not mean, however, that you should start dating like mad to find the next best spouse, or that the kids should be introduced to everyone you start to see. There is no bright line rule that states how many months a person should date before introducing that individual to the children, but in my (not in any way trained in psychology) opinion, I think three months of steady dating is reasonable.

The new love interest should not attempt to fill in for the missing parent in any way, and should initially just try to be a great friend to the child. Let the child decide how close he or she wants to be.

Respect for the child’s parents goes a long way in helping the relationship between the new girlfriend or boyfriend and the ex-spouse. One of my big pet peeves is when the parent introduces the significant other to the children but not to the ex-spouse. Assuming that there is no domestic violence in the relationship with the ex, these types of matters should be shared. It rarely goes over well if the children start talking about daddy or mommy’s new “friend” and that parent had no idea that the ex was dating again, let alone exposing the kids to this person. That usually sets off bells and whistles, with the “in the dark” parent wondering why exactly she hasn’t been kept up-to-date.

Despite how difficult the situation is, in general, the more open you are, the better the outcome. Sometimes it’s painful to let your ex know what’s going on in your personal life, but if it impacts the kids, it needs to be done. Besides, you are the adult – put on your big kid pants and take that first step.

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Marie Matyjaszek is a family law attorney whose blog site is: http://legalbling.blogspot.com. She can be reached by e-mailing her at matyjasz@hotmail.com.

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