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“When is the right time to introduce my new Partner to the children?”
Some parents introduce new partners to their children at the start of a relationship and some wait until they feel that the relationship is more secure. This is a personal decision based on how well you think that your children will cope. I have seen Partners introduced straight away with no difficulties and some when the relationship is more established. You know your children better than anyone and need to protect them by making the right decision. If you are moving from a heterosexual relationship to a same sex relationship or vice versa, this may require more thought and planning for obvious reasons.
Once your new relationship is established and you have possibly married / entered into a civil partnership, you may want your new Partner to assume parental responsibility for your children. They have become step parents and may wish to have step parents rights. This is an important decision, as important as deciding to marry.
Parental responsibility is the legal right and duty to make important decisions for the children. This includes decisions on schools and consenting to medical treatment. You need to be sure the relationship is secure before agreeing to your new partner having that ultimate responsibility for your children. When the child is born, usually, the two legal parents automatically get parental responsibility. If they later separate and re-marry, it is not unusual for their new spouse/civil partner to share parental responsibility for the children with them.
If you get married or register a civil partnership, your partner will become the ‘step parent’. This does not automatically give them parental responsibility. To share parental responsibility with your new partner or your ex’s new civil partner / spouse, you will need to sign a step parent parental responsibility agreement. All those who currently have parental responsibility for the children will need to consent. It could be that a disgruntled ex does not wish to provide consent or perhaps they are not contactable in which case, your new spouse or civil partner may apply to the court for parental responsibility.
The court will need to be satisfied that the applicant is committed to the child and that he/she can demonstrate that commitment clearly.
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