A common question asked by soon-to-be divorced clients is whether dating during divorce is ok. The answer is simple, but not easy.
Whether you realize it or not, dating during divorce will only make the divorce process more difficult for you and your spouse. Until your divorce is completely finalized, you are still legally married.
This has implications for the outcome of your divorce financially and with regard to custody of any children.
Not only are the legal consequences serious, but so are the emotional and psychological consequences. Divorce is a loss and requires some time and healing to take place before you are healthy and ready to be dating again.
Dating during divorce will only distract you from the process of recovery.
Legal Implications of Dating During Divorce
“The presence of someone new, particularly when paraded in front of the spouse and/or children, can enrage the soon-to-be ex, and also create the suspicion that the relationship began as an “affair” before the separation. The innocent new friend can be deposed by the other side’s lawyer (that is, asked questions that are taken under oath and recorded by a stenographer or even videotaped) and subpoenaed to testify at trial.
The purpose is to determine exactly when the relationship began, whether it is sexual, whether any marital property has been transferred to the new friend, such as by gift, how much money was spent on dating this person, and whether the spouse has said anything that could be used against him or her at trial.”
Your New Relationship Could Affect Spousal Support
“Most people assume that spousal support is paid in monthly installments over time. However, depending upon the law in your state, you may have the option of taking spousal support in a lump sum as soon as your divorce is final.
The problem is, usually the only way you can get a lump sum is if your spouse agrees to pay it to you that way. Most judges won’t order your spouse to pay you to support one big lump sum payment.
If your spouse knows that you are likely to be living with someone else soon, s/he will never agree to pay you a lump sum for support. Instead, your spouse will opt for monthly payments. That way, as soon as you start living with someone else, your spouse gets off the hook. Spousal support ends when you move in with a new partner,” says divorce coach Karen Covy.
The legal implications of dating during divorce add significant cost, time, and aggravation to an already difficult situation. Even if, somehow, dating during your divorce didn’t have any impact on your divorce legally, there are significant emotional reasons to put off dating.
Dating During Divorce Can Cause Parenting Problems
You might wonder what dating after divorce would mean for your kids. If you have children, diving into a relationship and dating during divorce may be harmful. They are already adjusting to a new normal, trying to understand everything that is going on around them, and likely already not receiving as much time with each parent as they need.
You could potentially harm your relationship with them, and court systems do not typically look favorably on a parent who is dating during a divorce.
“If you date during the divorce proceeding, your spouse will be less likely to want to settle custody and parenting time issues on a reasonable and rational basis. Your children will be less likely to want to be in your custody and will be less likely to want to spend time with you if you do not have custody.
Your Child Might Not Want to Spend Time With You
Frequently, children will simply refuse to spend time with you if your friend will be there when the parenting time takes place.
It is not unusual for children to become so alienated that there is a complete breakdown of the parent-child relationship. Put bluntly, judges and experts who assist the court in making custody and parenting time determinations are not impressed with a person who dates during a divorce.
Your Choice to Date During Divorce Might Hurt Your Child
Dating shows callousness toward the feelings of the children. It demonstrates a lack of empathy. It could be considered poor role-modeling for the children.
The dating parent is viewed as selfish and self-centered, a person who does what he or she wants without due regard for others, including children. The decision to date during the divorce could tip the scale in favor of the other parent in a custody battle.
“It could result in you having less parenting time than you otherwise would have been awarded. Actually moving in with your new friend during a divorce often is a disastrous action for all of the reasons just mentioned,” explains Kevin C. Gage, a family law attorney in Oregon.
While you can boost your children’s self-esteem and repair your relationship, it’s better to not put them in vulnerable positions in the first place.
The Emotional Consequences of Dating During Divorce
At first, you may think that starting a new romance is a way to forget or move on from the pain of your divorce. Unfortunately, no matter how long your marriage was unhealthy, dating during divorce will not solve your problems. You will have pain, anger, sadness, and plenty of other emotions to process before you are healthy and can be in a healthy relationship.
Guy Stuff Counseling & Coaching puts it this way; “Getting into a new relationship when you’re separated is going to be more about emotion than reason. Your new relationship will be more like a fantasy vacation than a real, day-to-day relationship.
And a lot of the time it’s driven more by wanting to escape the old relationship rather than really wanting to be in the new one. This is not good or fair for you and especially not for the person you begin dating.”
Seeing Someone Else Could Prevent Your From Healing and Growing
“Regardless of what you want to believe, you’re responsible too for your relationship failing. There are important lessons for all of us to learn from our failed relationships, about our partners and ourselves, that when learned help us to have more successful relationships in the future.
Sadly, most people rob themselves of the opportunity to learn these and they most often do this by dating when separated. If you don’t take the time to learn from your failed relationship before jumping into a new one, you’re very likely to repeat the same mistakes with the next person.”
Does the Law Prohibit Dating During Divorce in Alabama?
There are no laws in Alabama stopping you from dating while going through a divorce process. However, it’s not usually in your best interests to do so. Also, your relationships with your children and other family members may be affected and suffer. In a nutshell, the law doesn’t prohibit it, but it’s a bad idea to date before your divorce is concluded.
Is Adultery a Crime in Alabama?
The law doesn’t punish adultery as a crime. It doesn’t matter whether you are married, separated, cohabiting, annulled, divorced, or divorcing. You won’t be arrested or penalized for adultery even if it is proven to be the cause of your divorce.
What Are the Cons of Dating During a Divorce?
Courts view new romantic relationships after divorce in a bad light. It can complicate custody matters, as the courts will try to determine if you should gain custody when you’ve gotten into a new relationship. Your chances of getting custody diminish if you date during a divorce process.
A new relationship can also add stress to your life, strain your relationship with extended family members, and consume time you would have otherwise spent with your children.
Your New Relationship Could Affect Your Finances
The legal consequences of dating before a divorce is final include reducing your chances of getting custody and suffering negative financial consequences. Dating before assets are divided may result in a lower payout, as courts have a reason to reduce what is owed.
This is common with divorces linked to infidelity or adultery. Also, if you are cohabiting in your new relationship, you may appear to need less spousal support from your ex.
How does Dating During Divorce Affect Property Division?
If you and your ex agree on dividing marital property, dating during a divorce won’t have any impact. Even when adultery is the cause of the divorce, property division isn’t affected if the parties have already agreed on legal issues regarding divorce.
However, if there are disagreements on property division, dating during divorce can affect it. The other spouse can make things difficult in many ways. He/she can slow down the process deliberately using lawyers. However, property division is usually decided based on the law. Other aspects like alimony and child custody are likely to be affected.
Do I Need a Divorce Attorney When Dating During a Divorce?
Given the negative implications of dating before a divorce concludes, you should have legal advice on proceeding.
Whether or not you date during your divorce, a lawyer can help with your divorce. It can be very difficult to decide with an ex-spouse regarding property division, alimony, child custody, and child support. A lawyer can help you make such decisions, though.
There are lots of other reasons to get a lawyer’s help with your divorce, such as:
- You won’t have to leave certain decisions up to your ex-spouse alone or a court.
- Your lawyer can protect your rights and interests.
- You’ll be able to ask a court to grant you a divorce in writing (an uncontested divorce).
- Your lawyer could help you and your ex-spouse learn to communicate and negotiate with each other better, which could benefit your post-divorce relationship.
- Your children may have a smoother transition into their new lifestyles if you, your ex-spouse, and your lawyer can resolve matters fairly and peacefully.
It may be important for you to get a divorce lawyer to help if:
- There’s a problem with abuse or any kind of violence in your post-divorce relationship. You should also contact the authorities immediately for help)
- Your ex-spouse already has legal representation.
- You have children. Much more is at stake if children are involved, such as your children’s mental health.
- Your divorce involves significant financial issues.
- You believe your spouse is lying about significant issues.
- You believe your spouse is being vindictive.
Our Firm’s Divorce Attorneys Are Ready to Lend Their Knowledge
At our award-winning firm, we know how difficult divorce can be and how tempting it can be to date during divorce. We advise our clients to make the best decisions for themselves and the people they care about. We can negotiate with difficult spouses and argue for our clients in court.
We Are Legal Professionals Ready to Act on Your Behalf
Our team members are dedicated to divorce law and have many decades of experience. They have LL.M degrees in Trial Advocacy or have completed some of the most prestigious legal training programs, so they’re especially qualified to help our clients in and out of court.
In some cases, helping our clients means referring to nationally recognized experts and highly regarded parenting coordinators and psychiatrists. Our lawyers are fully capable of coordinating with these professionals.
Over the years, our Alabama divorce attorneys have noticed how different our clients and their situations are. As a result, our lawyers have learned to treat every client individually and tailor their services to each individual. They’ve also learned the importance of respecting our clients’ thoughts, feelings, and needs regarding their divorces. You can expect your attorney to treat you with this kind of respect and consideration.
Many of Us Have Had Experiences Like Yours
Many team members have had experiences similar to your own, so we have a good idea of what you and the people you care about must be going through. This gives us some insight into your situation. This insight, along with our expertise, will help us help you with your divorce and all of the complicated matters around it.
Contact Us to Learn More or Receive Legal Advice
Dating during divorce is not a healthy choice for several important reasons. For the best interest of your legal case, children, and emotional well-being, we suggest moving on after divorce, when the details are all finalized.
If you are considering divorce and need additional legal advice, contact The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates by calling us at (256) 859-7277 or sending an online message today. We offer free case evaluations. We specialize in divorce, child support, child custody, alimony, and military divorce.