Dating During Divorce
In many relationships, spouses have fallen out of love with each other long before they actually explore or begin the divorce process. During consultations, a common question that we hear is, “Even though my spouse and I aren’t legally divorced, I’ve been dating someone. Is this bad?”
At the same time, while working with clients during their divorce, we sometimes get a similar question, “I realize the divorce isn’t final yet, but I’ve met someone that I’d like to start seeing romantically. Will this affect what we’ve accomplished with the case so far?”
As with a lot of different elements in the divorce process, the answer is, “It depends!” It can be something that nobody even acknowledges, while in other cases, it can be very detrimental. Dating and relationships that take place during a divorce can have both legal and practical implications in the case.
We’ll discuss the main issues and present some guidance which will help you avoid problems with your divorce case.
Child Custody Cases
In child custody cases that involve a lot of conflict, you may want to think of yourself as being under intense scrutiny. Every move you make could be unfairly judged by your spouse or their attorney, and could even be provided to the court as evidence that your actions aren’t in alignment with the child’s best interests. We’ve seen many examples of parents keeping watchful eyes on each other with the goal of uncovering actions that could be used in court during the child custody proceeding. This behavior may not be present in every case, but if the potential is there in your situation, romantically seeing someone during the case may not be in your best interest.
How can dating cause negative implications in child custody?
It’s not dating in general, but who you’re dating. This individual may have a hidden past or history which may be brought to light and viewed as negative when child custody is in question. Assume for a moment that your new love interest was arrested for shoplifting a few years ago. It could be argued that they would be a negative influence on the children if in their presence. This may sound extreme, but still a potential obstacle for you.
Moving in together can be a common step for two people who are dating. Doing so can be practical and a logical next step. However, if you’re at that stage and plan to move in with your boyfriend or girlfriend, understand that this can have a huge impact if you receive or hope to receive spousal support during your divorce. California law assumes that if you’re cohabitating with someone, your need for support isn’t as high as if you were on your own. If you receive support, and move in with your significant other, your spouse paying the support can use that as grounds to get the amount they’re paying reduced.
Jealousy & Complication
With this area, you have to use your best judgment when it comes to your spouse. You likely know them better than anyone else and need to consider how they will react to news that you are dating someone new. Even in the instance where they initially filed for divorce (the Petitioner), we’ve seen a lot of unnecessary drama as a result of jealousy which resulted in more time and money spent by everyone involved.
Keep in mind that we aren’t going to dictate your personal life and choices, but it’s best to be educated and use common sense. When it comes to this subject, consult with an experienced family law attorney and be as objective as possible. Oftentimes, patience as it relates to jumping back into the dating world can be a key factor in moving your divorce along quickly and efficiently while saving time, money, and eliminating any unnecessary drama and complication.
We are aware that every situation is unique and special, so feel free to contact us to discuss specifics if you have questions or concerns related to dating and your divorce. This is a common occurrence, so we’ll be happy to listen and provide guidance based on our experience and California law.