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Family Lawyer Cara Nuttall discusses the introduction of a new partner after Separation where Children are concerned

Various publications this week have featured pictures of Gabriel Aubry, ex-partner of Halle Berry, showing the injuries he sustained following his altercation with her current partner, Oliver Martinez, over Thanksgiving. It is reported that the altercation took place during a handover of Aubry and Berry's daughter, Nahla, following the culmination of a disagreement that had started when all 3 adults attended to watch Nahla in a Thanksgiving play. 

The incident, if as reported, demonstrates a very common problem facing Separated Parents, and one upon which I have commented many times in the past in various blogs and articles. The introduction of a new partner is always a sensitive subject when Children are involved, and it is not uncommon for this to be a cause of significant disagreement between the parents, especially if either feels that a new partner is encroaching on their role as the child's parent, or that they are being marginalised as a result. Such feelings often surface at special occasions such as Christmas, birthdays or school events. Courts generally understand that a Separated couple may not always get on, but will take an extremely dim view of any inability to shield the child from such differences, especially if, as is reported here, those disagreements spill into physical violence.There are, sadly, some cases where one party may deliberately goad the other into starting a fight, in a deliberate attempt to use the incident to try and thwart Contact between that person and the child. Again, such tactics are far from advisable and the only certain outcome is the negative impact upon the child involved and increased hostilities, making life more difficult for everyone. If parents and/or their partners are unable to get on, especially at events and handovers, it is advisable for arrangements for such events to be worked in a way which minimises the contact they will have which each other (especially in front of the child) and/or which minimise the chances of things escalating out of control and ending in a fight. Over the years, I have helped people come up with all sorts of weird and wonderful arrangements, and it is about finding something which works for the individuals involved and which limit the child's awareness of the problems. It is always better to nip a problem in the bud, rather than waiting until tempers spill over.

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