Sultan Moulay Ismail Ibn Sharif, 17th century ruler of Morocco, holds the record for siring the most children in history, at 867. He was not a man to cross; he had four wives and 500 concubines and killed any man who looked at them. Not much is said about his 525 sons and 342 daughters, but you just know he knew every one of their names. No doubt he always looked out for the “best interests of the child.”

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Best Interests of the Child

The sad reality of divorced parents in Virginia is that, at least according to the law, nobody cares about you as much as they care about your kids. The concept of the “best interests of the child” is embedded in law with no such comparable notion for the Dads and Moms.

Under Code of Virginia § 20-124.3, a judge ruling on visitation and parenting time is required to weigh all decisions according to what is in your children’s best interests.

Want to have a healthy adult relationship with another consenting adult? Want another consenting adult to spend the night? Have a sleepover? Host a pajama party? Take the top bunk?

Those could all be problematic. A Virginia Circuit Court judge is not interested in catering to your sexual appetite and probably will look askance at a display likely to confuse a small child.

Prohibiting Overnight Guests in a Separation Agreement

The property settlement agreement (AKA separation agreement) could have language in it—requested by your ex-spouse—that limits your ability to have overnight guests. While this could be done out of spite, legitimate reasons for the phrasing may exist. Your children’s mother could be concerned:

  • About a particular person and insert wording prohibiting all “unrelated overnight guests” to cover that person and anyone in your future
  • About your partying behavior and be seeking to prevent all-night ragers when your children are in your care
  • About some of your own relatives in your extended family; the wording could prevent all “overnight guests”

To avoid the unpleasant shock of finding such wording in the property settlement agreement, read every page carefully before agreeing to it. Inform your family law attorney that you do not want the prohibition in the agreement.

Ask About the Goal

If you are in negotiations with your ex-spouse over the property settlement agreement and see wording prohibiting unrelated overnight guests, find out why the wording is there.

Is your ex-spouse just wanting to jerk you around, exert some power over you, or ruin your sex life? Could she legitimately be concerned about the morality of having her children see something inappropriate when they stay with you?

Seek to find out why she wants the phrasing in the agreement. Then work with your family law attorney to address her concerns so that the wording can be removed.

There are Better Options for Meeting in the Middle

If the phrasing is already in your existing agreement, you still have several options. A property settlement agreement can be amended after divorce. Your divorce attorney can help you find constructive ways to deal with the prohibition, such as:

  • You agreeing to restrict overnight guests to nights when you do not have custody of the children
  • Revisiting and updating the agreement periodically as the children grow and mature; explaining an “unrelated overnight guest” to an 18-year-old is very different from explaining the guest to an 8-year-old
  • Insisting that any such wording applies to both of you; if she has custody of your children, that puts a greater strain on her sex life than on yours as the noncustodial parent
  • You remarrying will nullify the prohibition, as your new wife will be related to you by marriage

Should You Mix Parenting Time with “Unrelated” Guests?

The goal of parenting time with your children is for you to maintain and improve healthy family relationships. Even if you share 50/50 custody with your ex-spouse, you are expected to concentrate on being a Dad, not a Sugar Daddy.

When you have your children, consider their best interests and politely ask your “unrelated” guest to wait.

This is not just a great group of attorneys suggesting a slow and steady approach. Experts at Psychology Today recommend:

  • Waiting until your kids are ready to meet your new partner
  • Waiting until the relationship between you and your “unrelated” guest is strong; at least nine months
  • Introducing the children and partner slowly, with the first meeting in a neutral place
  • Discussing the new partner with your ex-spouse in private, well ahead of any introductions with the children
  • Monitoring your children as the levels of family intimacy increase
  • Backing the relationship off if the children react adversely

We know waiting can be frustrating. And sure, you will never equal Sultan Moulay Ismail Ibn Sharif’s world record. Scientists calculated the only way he achieved his startling accomplishment was by, uh, “siring a child” with a different woman every night for 32 years. But having an ex-spouse and a new partner is complicated enough for any man. Relax. Focus on your kids for a bit. You’ll be a better man than the Sultan, no doubt.

At The Firm For Men, we work exclusively to protect Virginia’s men in all aspects of family law. Contact us today or call us at (757) 383-9184 to learn more about property settlement agreements, child custody, parenting time, and “unrelated overnight guests.”