Non-custodial father wants to move in with girlfriend

When I was divorced 3 years ago, my ex insisted on a clause in our agreement forbidding “overnight guests of the opposite gender, not related by blood or marriage”. My kids are older now and have healed well from the divorce and I am close to the point of moving in with a woman who I have been seing for a year. I have secondary custody of my kids and see them every other weekend.

Is there a valid argument that such an arrangement would be outside the breadth of that clause because she would not be an “overnight guest” if we were both permanent residents. I realize its kind of a semantic argument but the reason for the original protection is no longer there, and I want to find a way to satisfy the terms of the agreement. My kids love my girlfriend and want her around and we’re in a responsible, adult, monogamous relationship. The only other option I can think of would be to marry her, but we’ve both been through awful divorces and are somewhat gun-shy and it seems ridiculous to get married just to satisfy a single term in this agreement which is no longer really relevant, given the kids’ psychological maturation. Can you offer any advice, please?

Not an Attorney

I’m pretty confident that if your girlfriend were to move in you would be in breach of your agreement. This is a pretty tried and true clause, so I doubt arguing over the semantics of the word “guest” would really get you anywhere in court.

I disagree. In my opinion, if your girlfriend resides with you, she is not a guest in your home and therefore the clause should not apply.

I also have this clause in my agreement… my attorney, the opposing attorney and the arbitrator were very explicit that this meant no overnight guests of the opposite gender (including significant other, fiance, former roommate, BFF, neighbor, etc) extending to cohabitation.

Do you have a cohabitation clause in your agreement?

No Cohabitation language that I’m aware of, but that raises another question. When we went in front of the judge to have our separation agreement recognized, by the court, I ended up negotatiating several changes with my ex’s lawyer, who then wrote up the changes in legal shorthand for approval by the court. The judge approved it all and opposing counsel assured me that he would take the agreement back to his office, have it typed and send me a copy, which he never did. I called and he never returned my calls. Is there somewhere I can go to get a copy of the agreement. Otherwise I really have no record of our rights and responsibilities here.

You should be able to get a copy of the document that was filed at the courthouse.