A common question asked by soon-to-be-divorced clients is: “Is dating during divorce okay?” The answer is simple, but not easy.
Whether you realize it or not, dating during divorce will only make the process more difficult for you – and your spouse. Yes, 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, 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.
“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,” advises divorcenet.com.
“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 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 that could have been avoided by not dating during divorce. Even if somehow dating during divorce didn’t have any impact on your divorce legally, there are significant emotional reasons to put off dating during divorce.
If you have children, diving into a relationship and dating during divorce is not in their best interest. They are already in the midst of 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. Not only could you potentially harm your relationship with them, but also court systems do not typically look favorably on a parent who is dating during 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. Frequently, children will simply refuse to spend time with you if your friend is going to 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. 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 the impact on 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.
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 is not going to solve your problems. You will have pain, anger, sadness, and plenty of other emotions to process through before you are healthy and can be in a healthy relationship.
Guy Stuff Counseling and 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. 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 is 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.”
To summarize, dating during divorce is not a healthy choice for several important reasons. For the best interest of your legal case, children, and emotional wellbeing, I suggest waiting until all of the details of your divorce are finalized. If you are considering divorce and need additional legal advice, contact The Alabama Law Group today! We specialize in divorce, child support, child custody, alimony and military divorce.