The short answer is: nothing. Once you and your partner have made the decision to separate, you may start to date. This can be a difficult reality to face, especially when you and your ex-spouse have children together.
Parents are innately protective of their children, and will naturally be hesitant to allow them to spend time with people they don’t know. However, every parent is permitted to make basic day-to-day decisions with respect to their child without the consent of the other parent. If a parent is dating someone new, they are allowed to independently make the decision as to whether or not the child should be introduced to this new person. That being said, we recommend that you be mindful of the nature of your relationship with this person; is it secure? If you were to break up, how would it impact your children? How will your children respond at this stage? Even though it is not an obligation, we recommend discussing it with the other parent to give them a heads up, in order to be prepared for any conversation that may arise after the first meeting, and working with the child(ren)’s emotions. As parents, you know your child(ren) best and must be mindful of their feelings when making plans around this. The only time the court can intervene is when there is proof that the child’s health, security or development is being threatened (art. 612 CCQ). This is truly the only time the court will intervene to prevent a person from being in contact with a child.
Although the decisions about who your child will come into contact with can be made individually, it is important to remember that the best interest of your child is always the main priority. For that reason, discussing with the other parent is always ideal. Co-parenting can be extremely difficult, especially in cases where infidelity occurred during the marriage. Parents may isolate their child from the parent who was unfaithful rather than working with them to maintain healthy relationships between the parents and the child. This is frowned upon. The parents should respect each other and put forth the best interest of their child by proposing the idea of allowing the new partner and ex partner to meet. This could provide a sense of security for the parent once they have met and spoken with the new partner. Moreover, it shows the child that everyone involved in their life is willing to work together and are, at the minimum, respectful with one another, thus preventing the formation of animosity between the child and one of the adults.
In short, it is rare that a parent will be able to prevent their child from meeting, spending time with, or staying over with their ex’s new partner. Regardless, for the best interest of the child, both parties should work together to be respectful and make this transition as smooth as possible. In the end, the child is the most important part of the equation and their wellbeing should not be jeopardized because of unhealthy feelings towards others. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us.