Overnight Dates Could Seriously Damage Your Child Custody Case

Should you have a member of the opposite sex spend the night while you are going through a divorce? The resounding answer is -no.

"If there are children involved, overnight guests are a no-no," says Kathy Stafford, a relationship coach and author of Relationship Remorse. "Children do not and should not have to deal with an endless stream of 'new dads' or 'new moms.' If you want to have a sexual relationship with someone new, that's OK. Just don't do it with the kids at home."

And she also believes that it doesn't matter how old they are. " Children of all ages are traumatized enough by the separation of their parents." It sets a bad example-that it's okay to have sex with people you're not married to.

Putting morality aside, it is also not good from a legal standpoint, especially if you are just separated and are dealing with custody issues. "It's never a good idea, but not even for the moral reasons or even the kids. I am thinking of it from a litigious point of view. We have had many cases that we have surveilled that can be brought to light during the litigation and can jeopardize child support," says Thomas Martin, a private investigator and former FBI agent from Newport Beach, Calif. He says in California, after three night stays, and they don't have to be consecutive, that can be considered as cohabitating.

And if you're concerned about how much maintenance you will have to pay, it can damage your case by possibly proving that you may be a poor example for the kids and a bad spouse, especially if you have had a history of infidelity. If there is a clause in your divorce decree that ties maintenance or child support to cohabitation or can penalize you financially for having a steady partner, all that can be jeopardized.

Judy Poller, partner and co-chair of the Family Law Group at Pryor Cashman LLP, a Manhattan law firm says, "I would caution the client in terms of custodial issues down the road that it is not good judgment if you start having a trail of people through your house. You are actually harming your child. And I would be concerned if there were such issues between the parents that there was always going to be a concern about whether there could be good joint decision making regarding the kids."

Having a steady relationship with someone of the opposite sex early on may color your divorce. According to Daniela E. Schreier, a licensed clinical psychologist and assistant professor of the Chicago School based in Illinois, who has a background in forensics and works within the court system with custody evaluations says, "Say you are with someone on a fixed basis, you will be asked by a psychologist to bring that person in for an evaluation in child custody hearings." She also says, "This person has to come in to be evaluated. And we just had a case where an ex-husband came back and contested because his ex-wife hadn't told the truth about the fact she was dating one man, and he had stayed over the house, spent weekends together and the kids were in his constant company. We had to reevaluate."

And then there is also the case of the jealous and possessive ex-spouse. You don't want him or her to walk in when you are with someone else.

So if you are facing divorce or are in the middle of one, it is best to steer clear of bringing your significant other over to your house. It can be damaging foremost to your kids on a moral standpoint and also to your custody case, legally speaking.

At Stange Law Firm, we adhere to the law of doing what is in the best interest of the child and make it a top priority. Our firm focuses exclusively on family law and upholds the highest of standards in cases of divorce, child custody, child support, paternity, and other domestic relations issues.

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Source: How Overnight Dates Could Seriously Damage Your Custody Case, By Lenore Skonal for Divorce360.com, The Huffington Post