She caught her husband “in the act” with another woman in the gym carpark and now they’re getting divorced. But she has a strict rule for him.
Welcome to Sisters In Law, news.com.au’s weekly column solving all of your legal problems. This week, our resident lawyers and real-life sisters Alison and Jillian Barrett from Maurice Blackburn advise on whether a woman can get a legal contract stopping her cheating ex-husband from introducing her children to other women.
I have recently split from my husband and we’re planning to get a divorce. We are separated because he had an affair with a woman from his gym and I busted him in the act with her in the car in the gym car park.
I’m understandably furious with him but I want to remain civil for our two young kids and we’re planning to share custody. My husband and his fancy woman are now an item but I don’t want her to have anything to do with my kids.
Can I get it written into a legal contract that he can’t introduce any other women to our kids unless he gets remarried? I don’t want women coming in and out of my kids’ lives as they grow up. – Helena, QLD
The law doesn’t consider why a marriage broke down when deciding custody, or access, to children.
The fact your husband had an affair will have no bearing on his rights to access the kids, and he won’t be penalised for it.
You’ve mentioned you don’t want your husband to introduce your kids to “any other women” unless he gets remarried.
We assume you mean “any romantic partner”, as it is highly unlikely your husband would agree to that, or a court would make an order to prevent “any women” meeting your children.
Any dispute like this is usually best resolved out of court, due to the time, expense and stress associated with the court process.
You can try to reach an agreement with your husband on a parenting plan or by filing consent orders in court to ensure the arrangement is enforceable. However, it is highly unlikely he will agree to such a term.
Prior to going to court, you and your husband will be required to attend mediation or family dispute resolution. Services you can access to assist you with this process include Legal Aid, Family Relationship Centres and community organisations.
The aim of going through a mediated process is to come to an agreement about the issues in dispute and have a parenting plan or consent order prepared, signed and lodged with the court.
A parenting plan is a written agreement created by you and your husband, unique to your circumstances, and made in the best interests of your children. It will detail very practical aspects of the responsibilities of both parents and how decisions will be made about your children, including living arrangements, health care, and education.
The plan has a review date to ensure it continues to be appropriate for your children as they grow.
Parenting plans are not legally enforceable. So even if your husband agreed to a term in the plan that he would not introduce your kids to any romantic partners, there would only be repercussions for breaching this if the plan was submitted to the Family Court using the Application for Consent Orders and then it was formulated into a parenting order.
If you are unable to come to an agreement then you can apply to the court for a parenting order and a decision will be made based on what is in the best interests of your children.
Provided your children are safe when meeting your husband’s romantic partner/s, such as not in a house where there is drug use, then it is unlikely a court would make the order you seek.
If your children are mature enough then the court will consider their view and then impose the parenting order. Parenting orders are enforceable.
If you go down this path then you should get legal advice. While you can represent yourself in court, a lawyer can give you advice about the strength of your case and what evidence you need as there is no guarantee a court will decide in your favour.
This legal information is general in nature and should not be regarded as specific legal advice or relied upon. Persons requiring particular legal advice should consult a solicitor.
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