Although it’s perfectly legal to date during a pending divorce, doing so can complicate this process.
Going through a divorce can be very difficult. Whether you are on good terms with your spouse or not, you can expect to feel some loneliness and a loss of companionship during the divorce process. This is natural, and so too is the desire to seek out companionship through dating.
Whether it’s a brand-new partner or someone with whom you’ve been having an affair, choosing to date while your divorce is ongoing is up to you – but, there are reasons to think twice.
Dating Can Lead to Greater Animosity
In an ideal scenario, a couple can work through the terms of their divorce settlement together. If one or both spouses are dating other people, their personal lives can generate jealousy and animosity, which can make working together difficult or even impossible.
The consequences of a breakdown in collaboration can be significant. Collaborative divorce and mediation are two methods by which spouses work through their divorce without resorting to litigation. Litigation can cost a lot more than these alternative methods, and it can also take a lot more time as litigation is beholden to the court’s calendar.
So, with respect to the overall divorce process, you might want to consider how your spouse may react before you begin dating someone new.
Dating Can Have Consequences for Conservatorship
Who you date can impact the custody and visitation you have with your children.
When it comes to kids, a judge’s primary concern is deciding in their best interests. A partner you regularly date may have interaction with your children. Because of this, the judge may take into account who your partner is, their criminal record, their history of domestic violence and/or substance abuse, and other factors.
Your spouse can also leverage your dating life against you, alleging that you’re more focused on finding a new partner than being a parent to your children.
Dating Can Affect Alimony & Property Division
You might not readily see the connection, but dating can even impact how the court awards alimony and marital property.
One of the ways this can occur is if your spouse successfully argues that you used marital assets to fund your dating activity. Known as “wasteful dissipation of marital assets,” an example of this may be a time you went on a vacation with your new partner or bought them an expensive gift. Because your spouse had a stake in the property you used on someone else, a judge may award that deficit in your spouse’s favor.
If you are living with your new partner, the consequences can be more significant. Cohabitation can reduce or even eliminate alimony. For this reason, it’s probably a good idea to take up your own residence while your divorce is pending.
Dating in Secret Isn’t a Good Idea
Dating in secret is never a good idea because it may not be realistic to keep your new partner a secret for long.
While many people think they can date in secret until their divorce is finalized, many of them have failed. When there’s so much information about people and their activity put onto social media and other places online, it no longer takes a dedicated sleuth to discover dating secrets.
Not only may secret dating be futile, but it can also lead to legal complications. If your dating activity during your divorce could have had an impact on certain decisions made during your divorce, your ex-spouse can use this as a basis for a modification of your settlement. That can alter conservatorship and visitation arrangements, alimony, and other important issues.
If you are still wondering if you should date during your divorce, consult with your attorney. The advice you can get from an experienced professional such as Kay Polk, Attorney at Law can provide guidance to many difficult questions during divorce.