Whether it is during the litigation or afterwards, eventually, many parents do move on to new relationships but not every family is blended perfectly like in The Brady Bunch. 

TAMOUTSELIS v. TAMOUTSELIS, 2020 NY Slip Op 50435 – NY: Supreme Court, Monroe April 1, 2020:

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Significantly, in the order to show cause filed September, 2019, the mother sought a temporary order to prohibit the father from having his girlfriend in the children’s presence during his visitation time. The September, 2019 order to show cause included an affidavit dated August 15, 2019, which described the children’s reactions to their father’s girlfriend. The mother’s August 15, 2019 affidavit alleged that the father required his children in August, 2019 to sleep in a bed at his home with an unrelated “boy,” who was the son of the father’s girlfriend. The mother then described the children as “needy and clingy with me” since the sleep over and added the children told her that the girlfriend was taking their father away and characterized the girlfriend as “mean” and added that the girlfriend “ignores them.”

However, this Court struck that portion of the temporary relief in the September, 2019 order to show cause because, based on the Court’s review of the mother’s affidavit at that time, there was insufficient evidence to justify restricting the father’s relationship with another person or evidence that the children’s exposure to the father’s friend had adversely impacted the children’s well-being.

…….

In her current application, the mother describes a series of incidents that, in her view, indicate the need for a modification of the custody/visitation order and agreement:

(B) On January 11, 2020, three days after the mother executed the custody/visitation agreement, the mother got an email from the father, which she alleges was a threat. She said that the father stated that if the mother did not help him with the children’s relationship with the girlfriend, he would tell them the real reason for the divorce. The mother attached the text message to her affidavit. The only pertinent portion of the text message from the father is a sentence that reads: “Also can u stop alienating the kids from myself and my girlfriend and her son with lies . . . a lot of time has passed and u should be encouraging them that everythings ok and sometimes things change and that’s ok . . . I really don’t want to explain to them exactly what happened to cause this whole thing.”

The mother did not respond to that text. There is no evidence that the either the mother or the father altered the parenting time schedule after January 11, 2020.

(C) On January 15, 2020, the couple’s son got into argument with his father, according to the mother, over a video game. The father and son exchanged words and the father declined to take his son to hockey practice. Later that week, the children, while in residence with their father, again called their mother to complain that their father’s girlfriend was scheduled to visit. The visit never occurred. The children stayed with their father.

(D) The mother also relates an incident when the children went with their father to a farm at an unspecified date in the Fall of 2019. The mother said the children told her that they were upset because the girlfriend was there. The father then imposed a discipline on his son for failing to follow the father’s instructions and removed his access to his Ipad for two months. The mother, in her affidavit, said that the therapist had told them that this was “extremely excessive punishment.”

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(I) In her reply affidavit, the mother describes the children’s attendance at a professional soccer game and describes the father’s insistence that his children say “hi” to his girlfriend and she claims the father just ignore the children.

In reading this opinion, both parents may think the Court is downplaying the mother’s concerns about her children. To the contrary, this Court understands the maternal instinct that drives this mother’s efforts to insulate her children from the consequences of the divorce and the entry of new people in their lives. The Court acknowledges that the father’s introduction of a girlfriend can cause distress to children at any age. If he mishandles that introduction, he may someday face a child who justifiably concludes that his or her father, at a critical time in their young lives, lavished greater attention on a newcomer rather than his children. If that occurs, he may face loss of the child’s affection. But, that decision rests with the father and his choices in a post-divorce world. This Court will not interfere with his personal choices, other than to suggest that a child’s love, once lost, may be difficult to recoup.

The Court also recognizes the dislocation and disquieting nature of the new reality that these children face: life with their mother, and her style of parenting, without their father in residence and then time with their father, and his own style of parenting, and discipline and interactions with new friends and associates. In this case, as in many others, the conflict between mother and father, that ended the marriage and persists to this date, clouds the world of their children, often adding stress and anxiety to the lives of these eight-year-old twins. “