Like many fans of the Phoenix Suns I was sad to learn a few years ago that our former star player, Steve Nash, was getting a divorce from his wife and the mother of his three kids. Although the Nashes divorced in 2011, their legal battles are far from over. The court recently ruled on whether Steve’s live-in girlfriend could accompany the Nash children when they travel to Los Angeles without Steve. Steve’s ex-wife, Alejandra, still resides in Arizona. Steve’s youngest is 3 years old so an adult must accompany the children when flying to L.A.
Steve is busy as a NBA player and thus requested that his girlfriend be able to travel to Arizona to pick up the children and accompany them to L.A. for his parenting time. Steve’s ex-wife did not like the idea of Steve’s girlfriend spending that time with the children without Steve being present, and she objected on the grounds that Steve’s girlfriend was not family. (She also probably did not like the idea of Steve’s girlfriend spending time with the children in general). In its ruling, the court noted that Steve and Alejandra had a nanny who would care for the children without either parent present. The court felt that Steve’s girlfriend was just as much a family member as the nanny, and ordered that Steve’s girlfriend could accompany the children on the flights.
As a child custody attorney in Arizona I regularly see these issues come up. For example a father may come in to see me with the issue that his ex-wife’s boyfriend is watching the children during the ex-wife’s parenting time instead of the ex-wife. The fact the father does not like the ex-wife or her boyfriend is not sufficient grounds to prevent that from happening. Factors to consider before taking it to court include how long the children are in the boyfriend’s care, whether the boyfriend has a criminal record, and whether he is known to be violent or use illegal drugs. There are many other possible factors as well. The bottom line for the court is, as always, the best interests of the children.