Dating During a Divorce
Dating before your divorce is finalized is something that you should carefully consider. Regardless of the nature of the relationship, it has to potential to complicate your divorce proceedings. A simple divorce can quickly become an ugly state of affairs if the other spouse discovers you are seeing someone else. He or she may even try to use this information against you in court.
Here are some things to consider if you're contemplating dating during a divorce:
Entering Another Relationship Before Your Divorce is Finalized
In general, it is not illegal to date other people while you are getting a divorce. However, doing so can have an affect on your case. This is especially true if you have children. If you are dating during your divorce, you should avoid having your new acquaintance anywhere near your children, as this could potentially be used against you in court.
Once your divorce case is active, you should expect some scrutiny. Your life is essentially an open book as far as the court is concerned. In addition to all of your assets and income being reported, depending on the type of divorce you can also expect other personal information to be considered relevant.
All 50 states are no-fault states, meaning that divorce can be easily granted without much difficulty. In a no-fault divorce, both spouses agree to dissolve the marriage with no finger-pointing. In general, dating during a divorce isn’t viewed as misconduct in a no-fault setting and will not affect property division or alimony decisions.
However, spouses may still choose to have a fault divorce. Fault divorces allow a spouse to list a reason for the dissolution of marriage. If that reason is adultery, dating before your divorce is finalized may not bode well for your case. For example, in South Carolina and Pennsylvania, a spouse who commits adultery will not receive alimony.
Additionally, if you're cohabiting with your new love interest, this can adversely affect any alimony you might have been eligible to receive. It could even affect child custody decisions, particularly in a fault divorce.
The judge ultimately weighs all of the evidence in your case, and if the welfare of the children is in question due to your involvement with someone, that will also be considered. This may not be as serious in a no-fault case, but caution should be exercised nonetheless. Consult with an attorney to review all of your options.
Your Spouse and the Repercussions
Before you decide to begin dating, it is important to consider the negative impact dating might have on your spouse. Divorces that become bitterly contested are far, far more expensive, so waiting a few months may be worth it to avoid enraging your spouse to the point of retaliation.
In some states, a criminal conversation lawsuit can be brought against you if it's determined that a sexual relationship existed prior to your filing for divorce. The person you are dating might be called to give testimony if it can be determined that the dating began before your separation.
It’s common that your text messages can be used against you as well. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) found in a recent survey that 94 percent of divorce lawyers had seen an increase in the use of text messages as evidence.
What to Do
Often the best choice is to wait until the divorce has been finalized to begin dating again. In fact, many psychologists would suggest that jumping from a failed marriage to a new relationship can be harmful not only to the other spouse, but also to the children. Doing so can also anger your spouse, at a time when keeping the costs of your divorce down depends on things remaining as cooperative as possible.
If you need someone to talk to, there are several organizations that help divorcing spouses move on. Spending more time with family can help as well, as can attending social functions. The idea is to stay connected with the world, but avoid romantic connections that might do more harm than good.
Finding the Right Solution
The most important thing is staying focused on getting through the case, and, if any children are involved, on helping them adjust to the changes ahead.
To avoid any unnecessary complications, it's best to wait until your divorce decree is signed by the judge before pursuing any new relationships. In this new digital age, it's too easy for information obtained from a smartphone (or digital camera) to be used against you.
Always be sure to consult with your attorney if you have any questions regarding family law and how dating during divorce might affect you in your state.