One of the hardest parts of divorce is seeing your former loved one move on to new relationships. This is particularly difficult when former marital assets are being used to benefit the new significant other. Many newly separated or divorced couples are dismayed to find that their ex’s girlfriend or significant other has moved into their former marital home.
If you do not have children or a majority interest in the house, there is often nothing that can be done about this. While it hurts to see your ex allow a new female to use what was once yours, there is no legal remedy. However, there are cases where a new girlfriend may actually be a legally actionable issue.
In some cases, this can be prevented. First, many people have a clause in their child custody documents stating that unrelated adults of the opposite gender cannot live with the children unless there is a marriage. If this or a similar clause is in your parenting documents, your ex will be in contempt of court if they move a girlfriend into your marital home. However, it is very difficult to get this clause added after the parenting agreement has already been signed.
Second, you may be able to have a girlfriend ordered to leave your marital home if she is destructive to the property or a bad influence on your children. If you are still partial owner of your marital home, you may have some say in who lives there. Similarly, if your children are in the home full or part time and the girlfriend is a bad influence, you may be able to have the girlfriend removed for times when your child or children are present. This requires extensive documentation to show that she is harmful for or a danger to your children.
Last, your family lawyer may be able to help you oppose any other adult moving into your home if it is early enough that this could be confusing to the children. Children need time to adjust to their parents splitting up as well as time alone with their parents in order to feel secure. Introducing a new significant other to early can be detrimental to this. Moving this significant other into the family home can be even more destructive.
What can you do if the girlfriend is already living in your family home? It is important to talk to your family law attorney before making any steps toward eviction. However, most attorneys recommend several actions:
- Note the date that she moved in
- Note how many other people have moved with her (for instance children or parents)
- Keep track of statements that your children make about the girlfriend
- Consider taking your children to a therapist so a third party can evaluate the mpact on them
- Call your attorney regarding any irresponsible or dangerous behavior
- Express your concerns politely and in writing to keep a record that can be shared with the courts and your legal team
- Avoid personal confrontations with either your ex or his girlfriend
- Avoid discussing your ex or his new girlfriend with your children
There is nothing illegal or wrong with moving on from a failed relationship. However, it is important to be cognizant of your ex’s property and children. If your ex is placing your property or children in danger, there is always a remedy. The exact remedies depend on both your location and your unique situation. Talk to your family law attorney if you have questions about your unique situation.