How to Welcome a New Partner into Your Post-divorce Life

After your divorce, it’s normal and healthy to want to move on with your life. This may include the addition of a new romantic partner. After spending time getting to know each other, you may be excited to introduce this person to the other people you care about. 

The question is, how do you introduce them to your children and other family members? Your friends and co-workers? Your ex? And, if you decide to live together, how will you handle that transition?

You’re moving on

Congratulations! You’ve found a significant other who fills that hole left by your divorce. 

Embarking on a new relationship is exhilarating. It’s a fresh start, a new beginning, a do-over. But you don’t live in a vacuum, and this new relationship will also be part of your extended life, i.e., kids, family, friends, and maybe even your ex. How do you connect all the dots so you can share your joy and still respect everyone in your life? 

When should your new love interest meet your tribe?

You’ve been careful to keep your dating life and your family life separate. You wanted to give yourself the time and space to let things happen slowly. You didn’t want to confuse your kids, and you definitely didn’t want to tell your parents about your love life or answer invasive questions from your friends. 

But now, you see the long-term possibility of this serious relationship, and everything feels optimistic. You see a future with this person, and you want everyone to meet them. 

Introducing your new partner to family

While you’re over the moon about your new relationship, introducing your kids to this person requires special care. 

Your kids have loyalties to both you and your ex-partner as their parents. They may have even hoped you would reconcile. Bringing someone new into the mix dashes those hopes, so don’t be surprised if you don’t get the response to your new partner you were hoping for. 

Keep any introductory meeting with your kids casual and low-key.

  • Plan your first meeting at a place your kids already enjoy.
  • Keep this first time together short and sweet.
  • Keep signs of affection between you and your new friend to a minimum.
  • Focus your attention on the children’s needs.
  • Allow your new partner and kids to develop their relationship on their own terms.
  • Promote open communication by allowing your kids to ask any questions they need to ask afterward.

Set up the introduction by telling your kids something interesting about your new person. Do they have any fun things in common? Maybe they both like the same sports team or maybe your new partner has a unique talent that could win the kids over. 

The age of your children and how long you’ve been divorced will probably factor into how receptive they are to meeting your new partner. There may not be an instant connection, and that’s okay. Check in with them, and give them the right to their opinion – but reinforce that everyone still needs to be respectful. It may take a long time for everyone to warm up. Be patient. 

Read: Advice for Divorced Parents of Young Children

Introducing your new partner to your ex

Although you may feel your dating life is none of your former spouse’s business, when you have children, it’s important to maintain a healthy co-parenting relationship with them. It’s common courtesy to tell a co-parent when you’re dating someone. Although it can feel awkward, introducing them can offer an additional level of comfort. 

Prepare both your new partner and your ex-spouse with a bit of information about each other that might give them some common ground. Meet in a public place, perhaps for coffee or ice cream. Then, let them do the talking instead of playing referee. 

You may be surprised to find that they seem to genuinely like each other. Or, there may be some residual jealousy, grief, or anger, and they may have little to say to each other. That’s okay. Remind them that it’s in the children’s best interests for them to get along. 

Read: 26 Ways to Win at Co-parenting This Year

Introducing your new partner to friends and co-workers

Maybe you wanted to dodge the inevitable dating questions and advice from your friends and co-workers and have kept your relationship to yourself until now. Take your cues from your new partner as you plan these first-time meetings.

You may feel more comfortable doing introductions one-on-one with friends over coffee or drinks. Or, if you have a large group of friends who hang out together, you could plan an activity or dinner party around the introduction. Whatever it is, it should be casual and fun and something that makes everyone feel relaxed and at ease.  

Free download: Dating after Divorce worksheet

If your new partner moves in

Your relationship may already be entering the cohabitation phase. Take it slow. Moving in together means more than consolidating your stuff. It entails lots and lots of communication. 

Ensuring your emotional readiness

It’s exciting to discover that you feel happy with someone new, but after divorce, you may be carrying some emotional baggage that weighs you down. How do you know if you’re emotionally ready to start living with someone new? Do you share your home with children who will also have to make a huge life adjustment? And, if you’re co-parenting, will your ex react appropriately to your new life situation?

We offer the following tips to make sure you’re ready for this new phase in your relationship.

  • Reflect on your marriage. Make sure you have fully grieved this loss – even if you wanted the divorce. Reflect on the lessons you learned. How can you leverage past mistakes and hurts for the benefit of this new relationship?

  • Talk openly with your partner. Jumping into a cohabitation arrangement without discussing it much first can have bad consequences. Open communication is key. It can be helpful for each of you to share your feelings, concerns, and expectations about living together. Your discussion may lead to you conclude that you are on the same page – or it may not. Either way, it’s good to find this out before you move in together.

  • Anticipate blended family challenges. If either of you have kids or other significant family members who will be affected by your cohabitation, think carefully about this. Anticipate worst-case scenarios (which hopefully won’t happen) so you are prepared for any challenges that come your way.

  • Talk about shared responsibilities and personal space. Both of these are crucial to a happy cohabitation. Make sure you each understand who will be responsible for everyday tasks like cooking meals and cleaning up afterward. Figure out who will be responsible for which bills or how you will settle your shared expenses. Understand how and where your partner likes to spend alone time, how much personal space they need, and their home habits. Make sure your partner has a clear understanding about you, too.

See the FAQ section for information about a legal cohabitation agreement. This document can give structure to your new living situation.

Discussing your expectations

Before you move in together, take the time to understand the vision each of you has for this new phase of your relationship. Does one eventually expect marriage while the other is just fine with cohabitation as the end game?

When kids are involved, moving in together requires even more responsibility toward each other and your kids. Do you both have children? Do they get along? How will you handle discipline? Favoritism? Co-parents? What if you have disagreements when the kids are around? How will it impact your kids if you break up? These things should all be discussed upfront before anyone even moves a toothbrush. 


Do I legally have to wait a certain period to remarry after divorce?

In some states, yes. In certain jurisdictions, your divorce decree does not go into effect immediately upon issuance. Rather, there may be a waiting period of 30 days or more before your divorce has actually been finalized.

If you plan to remarry very soon after receiving your divorce decree, check the divorce and remarriage laws in your state. If you were to marry someone new while still technically “married” to someone else, that would invalidate the new marriage.

Will my alimony payments or child support payments be affected by my partner moving in?

If you are currently receiving alimony, it is likely to stop once you begin cohabitating with a new partner. However, if your ex is paying you child support, that is unlikely to stop just because you live with someone. The theory is that your ex is your co-parent, and your relationships with other people should not impact your ex’s obligation toward their kids.

What is a cohabitation agreement, and do I need one?

If you’re moving in with a new partner, you may feel a sense of trepidation in the wake of your divorce. Enter the cohabitation agreement. It’s a legal document you can create to outline some of the specifics of your living arrangement, such as who will be responsible for which expenses. 

An elaborate cohabitation agreement could also include details similar to that of a marital settlement agreement, such as how your property and assets would be split in the event of a break-up.

As for the question of whether you “need” a cohabitation agreement, the answer is no: It’s not legally required for you to live together. But it may help you feel more secure about your new living situation. If it would put your mind at ease, it’s worth considering.

When you find new love after a messy divorce, it can feel new and freeing. But there are many variables to consider, especially if you have kids. At Hello Divorce, we understand every phase of the divorce process, and we offer plans and a library of resources to help you live your best life through your divorce and beyond. Let us help. 



What is a Cohabitation Agreement? U.S. News and World Report

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Divorce Content Specialist
Mediation, Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Mental Health
Candice is a former paralegal and has spent the last 16 years in the digital landscape, writing website content, blog posts, and articles for the legal industry. Now, at Hello Divorce, she is helping demystify the complex legal and emotional world of divorce. Away from the keyboard, she’s a devoted wife, mom, and grandmother to two awesome granddaughters who are already forces to be reckoned with. Based in Florida, she’s an avid traveler, painter, ceramic artist, and self-avowed bookish nerd.