Short answer: depends on the child! The marital covenant isn’t what it used to be. Infidelity (of all kinds) has become so commonplace that RI Family Court judges will often shrug it off. He cheated on her. She emptied the bank account. He stalked her. C’est la vie.
What does become problematic for the Family Court, however, is when one spouse introduces a minor child to his / her significant other during the pendency of a divorce. Sure, parties are divorcing and they will move on and meet someone else and that is something that both parties and the children are going to have to deal with at some point – judges just hope that some point is after the ink is dry on the divorce papers. 1. Because then they probably don’t have to deal with it, and 2. Because that means the children have had a least a little bit of time to deal with what is going on.
Children are always the first and last victims of a divorce. A judge will do his or her best to see that the collateral damage from the fallout of a marriage’s end does not contaminate the children any more than is absolutely necessary. Therefore, if a child is going to be introduced to the significant other of either divorcing parent that parent better tread carefully. Consider the age, maturity, and needs of the children. Consider broaching the topic in counseling, if that child is in counseling already. If the child is young, immature for his or her age, or generally having trouble coping with the new life that they are experiencing where Mom and Dad live in separate places and never seem to be in the same room, then consider having boyfriend / girlfriend over but not overnight. Children get very confused when Mom or Dad bring someone new to breakfast.
Another thing to consider is how long the parent’s relationship is when he or she introduces the new love interest. How serious do both of them consider the relationship? Does the new girlfriend have kids of her own, of what age? Does the new boyfriend have a criminal record, an affinity for painkillers, or has he ever been involved with the Department of Children, Youth, and Services?
Introducing a significant other to your child will always be an ordeal, in and out of court. Make sure that they are ready first by having them meet the person and interact with them several times before they sleep over. Make it clear to the child that this person will never take the place of the child’s mother or father and that the child are welcome to speak to their counselor or EITHER parent about how they feel at all times.
By the way, if you truly care about your new squeeze you will want to make this process as easy on him or her as possible too!