Divorce is a trying situation, and many people focus on the day everything is final and it’s time to start a new chapter in life. You might also find you’re ready to date and want to start the search for the right person to share your life with. Life doesn’t always follow a strict timeline, so what happens if you’re ready to date before your divorce is final?
Think carefully about how to manage the overlap between your pre- and post-divorce worlds, and how dating during your divorce could complicate getting on with your life.
Divorce Issues and Your New Relationship
Dating before your divorce is final could create or at least complicate issues in your divorce case. Your divorce lawyer can best guide you on the issue of whether or not dating presents possible legal problems.
Dating, Adultery and Your Divorce
In most states, the law allows you to seek a divorce either on fault-based grounds, meaning one spouse’s misconduct or wrongdoing is the reason for the divorce, or a no-fault divorce. Examples of fault-based grounds are adultery, desertion or cruelty.
In many states, dating before your divorce is final could fall within the legal definition of adultery. If you’re dating while still married, it’s possible that your spouse could raise the issue of adultery, complicating your case.
Spousal Support and Property Settlements
Depending on state law and the facts of your case, a new relationship could affect decisions in your divorce on spousal support and property division. In some states, a person’s misconduct, such as adultery, can impact these issues.
Living with a new partner could raise issues in your divorce. Your spouse might argue your expenses are less, and it should be a factor in deciding spousal support and property division. Keep in mind once your divorce is final, modifying support can be difficult.
Child Custody and Visitation Issues
Take care and use consideration when it comes to your children and dating during your divorce. Divorce is a major change in your children’s lives, so helping them cope while providing support and stability is important.
Think about how you want to introduce your children to the person you’re dating. Many people opt for slow introductions and integration. There’s no set timeline to follow, though, and everyone is different.
Your new relationship could be a factor if child custody and visitation issues aren’t yet settled in your divorce. A child’s best interests is the typical standard used in determining these issues. It’s aimed at securing your child’s well-being. A court could consider:
- The level of involvement your children have with the person you’re dating
- Whether or not your new boyfriend or girlfriend poses any danger to your children
- Whether or not living with your boyfriend or girlfriend is in your child’s best interests
Your divorce lawyer can best help you assess your situation, as courts have considerable leeway in deciding these issues.
Remember that divorce is a stressful and emotional situation for all involved. Keep dating from becoming an issue in your divorce, and avoid added conflict, time and costs. With your case completed sooner, rather than later, you’ll be free to move on with your life and your new relationship.