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Tips for dating as a divorced parent

For newly-divorced parents, the decision to start dating again is a big one. When you do start seeing someone, at what point do you introduce this new person to your children?

Every situation is different. Some people have no interest in dating, let alone getting into a serious relationship, for the foreseeable future after a divorce. Many psychologists suggest that parents wait at least a year after the divorce before starting to date again if their kids are school age.

If and when you do begin dating, consider how it will affect your children. They may be happy to see you getting out and enjoying yourself. However, they may be troubled by seeing a parent romantically involved with someone other than their mom or dad. They could have conflicting feelings at once. Finally, when they see parents moving on to new relationships, it dashes any remaining hopes they had (no matter how unrealistic) that their parents would get back together.

If you're considering re-entering the dating world, talk with your children. Find out what concerns and questions they have. Provide reassurance that they'll come first in your life even if you fall in love again, particularly if you have primary custody. Don't wait until you meet someone and then try to figure out how to tell them about this new person or try to hide a relationship from them. Keeping their trust is more important than ever after a divorce.

If divorced parents are seeing more than one person casually, they often don't introduce them to their children. If you're going on casual dates, meet them somewhere else so that your children aren't seeing what may seem to them like a parade of people going out with mom or dad.

If you start getting serious with someone, how soon should you introduce your kids to him or her? It's normal to want to introduce a boyfriend or girlfriend to your children. However, it's important not to rush things. Talk to your kids first and see how they feel about it. Keep the first meeting casual and short. Don't plan a whole day together in case things go badly.

If you need advice on dating as a divorced parent or in helping your kids deal with it, a support group of people in a similar situation can likely help. Your family law attorney can likely provide some recommendations.

Source: Huffington Post, "To Date or Not to Date? For Divorced Parents, the Struggle Is Real," Antonio Borrello, PhD, Oct. 08, 2015

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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
  4. You can only control yourself and how you respond. Don't engage.
  5. Do set up rules and responsibilities. Kids feel better when routine is continued.
  6. You are still their parent — don't be afraid to be one.
  7. Disneyland is in California, not in your home. Don't set up unreasonable expectations.
  8. It is not their job to take care of you. Repeat that to them. Often.
  9. Yelling is for sports — not court. Good lawyers strongly advocate without being disrespectful to opposing parties.
  10. Fair is a place you go to get cheese curds. Aside from that, nothing in life is fair.

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