The Legal Issues of Dating During Divorce

Divorce, Relationships

Your marriage is as good as dead; your divorce decree is all but signed by a judge. You’d assume, then, that you’re free to start dating. Do you really think your divorce lawyer is going to give you the green light to date, should you ask?

Irked Woman

Is the New Love Worth It?

Nothing can heat up a divorce like bringing a third party into the picture. Unless you want to be dealing with restraining orders and other legal complications, try to wait as long as possible before venturing into the dating world again. If your state recognizes fault grounds for divorce, watch out; adultery could easily become your spouse’s grounds for claiming that you ruined the marriage. If it can be determined that your dating life (your infidelity, that is) will impact the day-to-day life of your children, you might be out of luck in the custody department. Never do anything that could make it seem as though your children are being neglected–like going out partying, for instance.

Even if dating during your divorce won’t affect the legal outcome, consider the psychological ramifications for everyone involved (including the person who might not want the drama of dating a divorcee). Divorce is emotional enough; why infuriate your spouse even more right now? Bringing a new lover around the kids is probably one of the worst things to do during a divorce, as it could only fuel the fire of a custody dispute or issues with property division or spousal support. The last thing you want is possible proof that you were cheating during the marriage (remember how you’re still legally married?), so avoid making things more complicated than they need to be, especially for the kiddos.

If You Must Date: Keeping Your Divorce On Track

If your marriage is definitely over and you have met someone you are interested in, consider a few suggestions:

Wait to let the kids know. If you start dating, your kids may feel you are betraying their other parent, and may reject your new love as a result. Waiting until well after the divorce is final to make introductions is best for everyone.

Don’t leave a paper trail. In a completely no-fault divorce state, you won’t likely suffer any legal consequences as a result of dating now, unless you spend marital money on your extramarital relationship. In that case, money you spend on dinner, vacations, or gifts for your beau can cost you in court, when an equal sum of money is given to your to-be ex before dividing the rest of your property.

-Don’t move in!  Living anywhere but on your own can hurt you in a spousal support analysis, and your ex will not let your cohabitation go unnoticed in court. Whether you are the financially advantaged spouse or the one to be on the receiving end of the money, living with someone looks like you can do without a bigger chunk of change since you’re sharing expenses.

Obviously, dating before your divorce is finalized is going to raise an eyebrow or two at best. To avoid drama in and out of the courtroom, it’s probably best to wait to date until you’re officially available.