A common issue during and even after divorce is the introduction of children to a new significant other. This can be a very emotional issue for clients, who are navigating the dissolution of the marriage while having to deal with a new third party in the mix, but equally frustrating for those who are just trying to move on with their lives.
Whether a party will be able to have a significant other around the children depends on a variety of factors. However, as common as the concern may be about exposing the children to new partners especially during the divorce, it is very rare for a Court to restrict significant others from being around the children absent harm or potential harm to the children.
The DeVita Restraint: History
While nowadays New Jersey Courts typically do not restrict a significant other from being around the children, New Jersey Courts do still have the power to enter such a restriction one or both parties—a scenario commonly referred to as a “DeVita restraint.”
In the 1976 case of DeVita v. Devita, the Appellate Division agreed with a trial court when it did not allow the husband/father to have overnight visits with his girlfriend in the presence of his children. The mother/wife argued that the children’s moral welfare could be endangered if the kids were to witness overnights with dad and his new girlfriend.
While the Court did not actually rule on whether it was morally wrong for the children and the new girlfriend to be under the same roof at night, it nonetheless found that the court was not wrong in forbidding it.
But that was then, and this is now. The DeVita decision is nearly half a century old, and while it continues to be cited in support of arguments to restrict significant others from being around children, the case law has changed as societal norms evolve.
Speak to an Attorney Today
While the courts still can and do impose DeVita restraints, it is not nearly as common as it was years ago. At Rigden Lieberman, our attorneys can help you navigate these pre- and post-divorce issues. Contact us today.