How soon after a divorce may my new significant other spend the night?

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Can Your Paramour Stay the Night?

Paramour.  The term paramour dates back to biblical times and has a seemingly negative connotation.  In the context of divorce cases, it refers to unmarried liaisons that occur after a marital split.  Does the court have any control over your attempts to move on?  Can your paramour stay the night?

 The DeVita Restraint

If your previous union was childless, you have no concerns that the court has any interest in your choice to entertain overnight guests.  You can live up your life to your heart’s content.  No one will intervene to question your moral judgment or the harm you might cause to other relationships in your life.

However, the court can be called upon to question the extent to which you expose your children to your new lover. For almost four decades, the court relied on DeVita v. DeVita, 145 N.J. Super. 120 (App. Div. 1976) as the precedential case.  In this matter, a father was frustrated because his female companion was not permitted to spend the night on the weekends he visited with his children.

The DeVita restraint gave the courts the ability to weigh in on the matter, particularly as it applies to the well-being of the children.  In making the decision of whether a parent should be allowed to have overnight guests, the court considers a number of factors.  These include:

  • The length of time the parents have ended their relationship
  • The age of the children
  • The length of time the parent and his/her significant other have been involved
  • Whether the children already knows the significant other
  • Whether the children have unique psychological or emotional issues that could be adversely affected by witnessing the paramour’s overnight visit

The New Millennium

Some might say that DeVita restraints were socially accepted in the 1970s.  But, what about now, in 2015?  Is the court still beholden to the conditions in the 1976 precedent?

According to an article that recently appeared in the New Jersey Law Journal, an Ocean County family judge finds the DeVita restraints to be dated and restrictive.  A matter was brought to court based on an agreement reached between the parties in November of 2014.  Both parents placed an indefinite hold on exposing their children to subsequent love interests.  When the father became involved with someone new, the mother motioned the court to enforce the consent agreement.

The judge’s ruling stated that an indefinite time period was inappropriate and unenforceable.  He suggested that children should have the opportunity to ease into meeting their parent’s new partner.  However, parents should not be subjected to blanket restrictions on establishing new relationships.  Of course, parents should be mindful of the best interests of their children.  Any inappropriate behavior could act as a barrier to the overnight proposition.

Contact Us

Parenting time and new relationships are all part of moving past a marital split.  Sam Stoia has extensive experience in dealing with these issues.  Contact our office for a complimentary divorce consultation.