Dating after a divorce is difficult for anyone, but it is especially complicated for single people with children. Introducing a new person into their lives can be difficult for all parties involved. Marriage professionals in Illinois and elsewhere have suggested that joint custody, when combined with other strategies, can help mitigate the effects of mom or dad starting a new life.

It is important to remember that children do not typically adjust to change with the same ease as adults. While divorce is an involved and often long-term decision for the adults involved, it can come as a shock to children. In addition, while the marriage may be over, the relationship between a departing spouse and his or her children does not necessarily change in the same way. It is important for both parties to recognize their children’s need for time to adjust.

That time to adjust extends to new relationships as well. Observers agree it is unfair for parents to ask children to immediately accept a new person into their lives, especially when that person may not be a permanent fixture. Taking time to explore a relationship and develop a solid foundation before bringing children into the mix is vital to the adjustment period.

Many also suggest that joint custody can be of benefit to both former spouses when embarking on new relationships. Joint custody means an opportunity for independent time when the children are with the opposite spouse, time that is necessary to build a meaningful new relationship and to allow children to adjust to new circumstances. However, the terms regarding joint custody vary from state to state: Illinois parents may benefit from familiarizing themselves with their rights and responsibilities under our laws before agreeing to such a custody arrangement.

Source: Atlanta Black Star, “Dating Post-Divorce: Introducing Children to a New Love,” March 29, 2013