In my blog yesterday, I wrote about what happens when dad wants to delegate his visitation during deployment to his new wife. This can be a very upsetting thing for moms to have to deal with, especially because it’s typically completely unexpected. There are a lot of competing emotions when a relationship breaks down, and when you add the protective “mama bear” instinct that many moms are already feeling, and dad bringing around another woman, the tensions can escalate into a truly frightening situation—for parents and kids alike.
In most cases, it’s probably best to accept dad’s new wife’s role in the lives of the children. It can be difficult to watch another woman “play house” with your children, but if your child’s father has made such a substantial commitment to this new woman, you would do well to accept her as a permanent addition your children’s family. You don’t have to like her or spend extra time with her, but as a service to your children it would definitely be a good idea to at least give her the benefit of the doubt at first.
That being said, however, I have seen several situations where dad’s new wife is not an appropriate person to have visitation while dad is deployed. She may be too young, have a criminal background, or have substance abuse issues. Whatever it is, you’re not a bad person for being afraid to have your children around something that could have a seriously adverse effect on their development. Remember that the main objective of custody litigation is to determine what’s in the best interests of the child. As their mother, you should keep their best interest always at the forefront of your mind.
If you can’t stop the delegation in court, you should try to limit the amount of visitation that the other woman has. Make an argument that, even if she DOES get visitation, she should get substantially less than dad would get. Failing that, though, you should remember that just because dad was able to delegate visitation to his new wife does not mean that she has separate visitation rights. Once the deploying parent returns home, the order terminates, and the other woman has no separate right to ask to see the child separately from dad after that time.
If there has been a material change in circumstances, you can also file a motion to rescind the delegation of visitation to the family member. You’ll have to provide notice of the motion on the family member whose visitation would be terminated, but you may be able to rescind her visitation that way. A good example of a material change in circumstances that would make me consider filing a motion to rescind would be if the visitation had, in some way, had a substantial negative impact on my children.
You may not be stuck with this delegation of visitation. You can always try to limit dad’s new wife’s visitation, or file a motion to rescind the delegation if you can prove that there has been a material change in circumstances. Good luck!