Ex Spouse Refuses to Allow New Partner to Meet Children -- Enforceable?


#1

I have been dating someone for almost two years. My partner has been divorced for almost 4 years. There are two minor children (one will be 18 in a few weeks and the other is 16). The original separation agreement stated that the minor children could only meet a new partner if the other parent agreed. My partner and I have asked several times, we have sent (at the other parent’s request) personal identification information about myself (name, occupation, information about my own minor child). The ex-spouse has refused repeatedly even when the eldest child ages out, claiming now that I will only be permitted to meet the children once both children have graduated high school (which would be nearly 6 months after the youngest ages out).

Our question is, as both children wish to meet me, given their ages, is this even enforceable? We find ourselves unable to move forward in our relationship and it is significantly impacting our lives with a secondary impact to my partner’s children. The ex-spouse further has refused our requests for mediation to revise this subject. While we know that we can’t be told it’s ok to violate an order so entered, we are finding it difficult to understand what real damages the ex-spouse could try to claim in the event we decide to simply let the children meet me as they wish.


#2

Since the terms are in a separation agreement and presumably both parties signed voluntarily without coercion and there was no undue influence, duress, etc., then the terms are likely enforceable.

If the other party to the separation agreement violated the terms and allowed the children to meet his/her significant other without both parents’ agreement as the separation agreement requires, then the parent refusing to give consent could sue for breach of contract. If successful, the parent violating the agreement could have to pay a monetary judgment and the prevailing party’s attorney’s fees.

Keep in mind that unless the separation agreement states otherwise, custody provisions terminate when a child turns 18 (in contrast, child support generally terminates when the child turns 18 and graduates from high school).


Anna Ayscue

Attorney with Rosen Law Firm Cary • Chapel Hill • Durham • Raleigh • Wake Forest

Rosen Online | Unlimited confidential access to a North Carolina attorney for $199/mo - click here

The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service only, a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action. The information posted on this forum is available for public viewing and is not intended to create an attorney client relationship with any individual. These answers are provided for informational purposes only, a person should consult with their own individual legal counsel before taking any action that could affect their legal rights or obligations.


#3

The soon-to-be 18-year-old has requested to meet me upon turning 18 and the 16-year-old has asked to be allowed to come to meet me, as well. Would a court not take that into consideration? Would the court consider the ex-spouse’s repeated violations of multiple provisions within the agreement and being untruthful during initial negotiations as reasons to potentially order new mediation and a new agreement or modifications to the existing agreement? Only the ex-spouse was represented by counsel as my partner was forced to pay and could not afford two attorneys.


#4

Since the court will be determining a breach of contract issue and not a custody issue, the court will likely only focus on the alleged breach. The court will not order mediation and will not consider modification in a breach of contract lawsuit.


Anna Ayscue

Attorney with Rosen Law Firm Cary • Chapel Hill • Durham • Raleigh • Wake Forest

Rosen Online | Unlimited confidential access to a North Carolina attorney for $199/mo - click here

The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service only, a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action. The information posted on this forum is available for public viewing and is not intended to create an attorney client relationship with any individual. These answers are provided for informational purposes only, a person should consult with their own individual legal counsel before taking any action that could affect their legal rights or obligations.


#5

Thank you. We will continue trying to get the ex-spouse to mediate a modification to the agreement, then, based on significant and substantive changes to circumstances tangential to this part of the agreement.