Can Your Ex’s Current Spouse Affect a Custody Order?

Can Your Ex’s Current Spouse Affect a Custody Order?It is common for an ex-spouse to eventually move on and remarry. When there are children involved, the new spouse may become a huge part of their lives.

If you have a custody order or parenting plan in place, it is important to know that there is a possibility that your ex’s current spouse could cause you to need to make certain changes to it. Following are six ways that your ex’s current spouse may affect your child custody order.

1. They may dislike your child

If your child tells you that their other parent’s current spouse does not like them, it is important for you to understand why they are saying this. You should ask why they feel like this. If they bring up any instances of where the person has been mentally or physically abusing them, you should immediately inform a lawyer about this.

While this is every parent’s worst nightmare, it is important that you remain as calm and collected as possible until you find out what to do. In New Orleans and the rest of Louisiana, the child’s best interest always comes first. Therefore, it can be difficult to change a custody order just because your child believes their parent’s current spouse does not like them. However, if there are disclosures, signs, or evidence indicating that some type of abuse is going on, the Judge will likely allow changes to protect your child’s mental and physical health.

2. They may be a bad influence on your child

If you have a pre-teen or teenage child, you are likely on high alert when it comes to friends who may be a bad influence on them. However, if you find out that your ex’s current spouse is the one negatively influencing your child, you may immediately become alarmed. There are many different ways that the new spouse could be negatively influencing your child, such as allowing them to consume alcohol, smoke, not attend school, drop out of sports that they have always loved, and more. If this is the case for you, it is crucial that you speak with your family law attorney as soon as possible about what to do regarding the custody order. Depending on the details of the behavior, the court may see this as the new spouse affecting your child’s physical, mental, and emotional development, which could lead them to enforce a new custody order restricting visits where the new spouse is present.

3. They may be in the military

A common issue that occurs when a parent marries a person who is in the military is moving out of state. The military often requires people to move to different bases, which means that your ex may have to move to be with his or her current spouse. Since you and your ex likely already have a parenting plan in place, it is expected that they will live in the same state and follow the stated orders. However, if you are agreeable to allow your ex to still see your child while they are out of state for military reasons, you can request a modification to the order. The Judge will most likely take into consideration various factors, such as stability, schooling, and extracurricular activities that the child is involved in, which can influence the custody order. Therefore, you and your ex may be able to come to an agreement about which holidays or weekends they will get (or summer vacation) to ensure that your child maintains stability while still seeing their other parent.

4. They may have an addiction

If you find out that your ex’s current spouse has an addiction, you may be able to change the child custody order. However, in order to successfully do this, you will likely need to provide proof that the new spouse has an addiction that poses a risk to your child, such as to drugs or alcohol. You may be able to prove this if they recently received a DUI while driving with your child in the vehicle or if your child has told you about finding their “drug stash” when visiting their other parent. If the addiction is something minor like smoking cigarettes, you will most likely not be able to change the court order unless your child has severe asthma or another health issue. In this case, a Judge may update the court order to state that the child cannot be around anyone who smokes or must be in a smoke-free environment at all times.

5. They may want to adopt your child

Your ex’s current spouse may get along with, welcome, and even grow to love your child like their own. While this may be great for you, it may cause issues if they decide that they would like to adopt your child. This is called a stepparent adoption, but it is only allowed if you give consent to the adoption, your parental rights have been terminated, or your ex has sole custody. Therefore, as long as you do not consent to the adoption, it will not happen. However, to make sure that you have the best legal representation in case your ex and the new spouse takes you to court for this, it is critical to hire an attorney and begin discussing your options right away.

6. They may persuade your ex to not follow the custody order

If you and your ex have established a parenting plan or custody order, you both are required to follow it. However, it is not unusual for exes to meet and marry new people who have issues with them seeing their children from a previous marriage or even try to persuade them to not give the children back. If you are dealing with a situation like this, you should get in touch with a lawyer as quickly as possible as this is a violation of your court order.

You may be able to avoid court by setting up a meeting with only you, your ex, and an attorney to determine how to solve this matter. However, there is a strong chance that the case will go to trial and a Judge will resolve the matter, make changes to the order, and ensure that it is enforced and followed. If a court order is not followed in Louisiana, make up visits, fines, and jail time may be ordered.

At the Law Office of James A. Graham, our New Orleans family law attorneys are here to help you with any questions or concerns regarding your ex’s current spouse. We can help you pursue the necessary steps to create a child custody court order, modify an existing order, or ensure that an existing order is being followed. If we believe that a custody modification should occur because of actions committed by your ex’s new spouse, we will work to help you present this argument to the court. Please call our office or submit our contact form to schedule your free case evaluation today.