Paramour Overnights No Longer Banned
Ocean County Family Law Judge Lawrence Jones recently ruled that there should be fewer restrictions on contact between children of a divorcing parent and their new boyfriend or girlfriend. On August 3, 2015, Judge Jones ruled in Mantle v. Mantle that an indefinite ban on contact between a divorcing spouse’s paramour and the children of the divorcing spouse is unenforceable. The Court noted that for such a ban to be open-ended there would need to be a showing of inappropriate behavior or the threat of damage to the well-being of the children.
The Court set forth, however, that short-term restrictions are permissible where the best interest of the children must be protected. Judge Jones was careful to note that introducing a child to a significant on the heels of a divorce should not be abrupt or simply thrust on the child. The child’s needs always come first and there are many factors to be considered. Restrictions such as the ones discussed in the Mantle case are known as DeVita restraints.
As one might expect, this term is derived from an older Appellate Division decision from 1976 entitled DeVita v. DeVita where the Court upheld the lower court’s ruling that barred overnights between a divorcing father and his girlfriend when the children were present. This Chancery Division decision, although not dispositive in other cases, sets forth important considerations for parties going through a New Jersey Divorce. It also reflects how the changed times might finally be catching up to the cases being decided in our New Jersey courts.
Where once the “moral welfare” of the children was seen to be at stake, this must now be tempered by the reality that children cannot be raised in a vacuum and that divorcing spouses should be able to pursue new relationships after separation or divorce. If you are experiencing issues concerning your children and new significant other while going through a divorce, call Family Attorney Sylvia S.
Costantino today to discuss your case.