Dating during divorce is unwise in almost all instances. Not only does it hurt your spouse, which could potentially lead to retaliation, the legal implications of dating while divorcing could also bring about long-lasting consequences.
Your New Boyfriend or Girlfriend Could Be Dragged into the Settlement
Your paramour could be sued and made a party to your divorce case. Possible claims that could be asserted against a paramour include fraud and conspiracy. For example, if you give community property – a car purchased during the marriage or money from your earnings – to your paramour without your spouse’s knowledge or consent, your paramour could be subject to a third party claim for fraud. That is a headache no new relationship needs.
In addition, your new boyfriend or girlfriend can be deposed, or made to go on record, and subpoenaed to testify at trial while your ex’s lawyer works to determine when the relationship began and if any marital property has been given to your new partner. Your ex’s lawyer could even question you to find out if you have ever said anything that can be used against you.
Legally, you are still married until your divorce is finalized even if you’ve been separated for a long time. If you begin dating during your divorce, the relationship could be viewed as adultery. And in states that recognize fault, this could seriously hurt your share in property settlement and even in spousal support.
Plus, even if you waited until you were officially separated from your spouse to begin dating, a new partner can raise the question of whether you were actually seeing this person while married and if you had an affair with this person.
When you add a third person to the relationship, that person is going to be scrutinized, especially if you have children. Any child custody case could take your boyfriend or girlfriend’s conduct into consideration when determining how much custody you should get.
And what if you live in a state where children can express a preference about custody? If your child doesn’t like your new partner, you may not end up with the custody arrangement you had hoped for. Not to mention that a new relationship makes your living situation less stable in the eyes of a judge.
Child Support and Alimony
When you move in with someone, it changes things from a financial perspective. Now there are two people sharing expenses and contributing to the household income. This can affect how much you receive from your ex in child support or alimony.
If You Must…
Cupid’s arrow isn’t always discerning of ideal time. If you find yourself in a new relationship you just can’t put on hold until after the divorce, be smart about how you conduct yourself.
- Date if you are not yet physically separated (even if you and your spouse both agree you are separated). A judge may determine your new relationship is the reason for the divorce and could award more property to your spouse
- Bring your new boyfriend or girlfriend to any mediation meetings or court hearings
- Post pictures on social media of you and your new flame
- Bring your new partner to events (i.e. your kids’ soccer games) where your ex will be
- Introduce your new boyfriend or girlfriend to your children. Good rule of thumb – don’t do anything with your new partner in front of the kids that you wouldn’t be comfortable detailing to a judge.
- Get pregnant or impregnate someone before you are officially divorced.
Talk to an Attorney
The wisest thing to do is to find a divorce attorney you can trust, and be completely upfront about any new relationship. Your attorney will advise you and help you make the best decisions for your specific case.