Your marriage is over and you might feel ready to dive back into the dating pool to start a new chapter in your life and find love again, but if your divorce has yet to be finalized, dating might actually harm your case and detrimentally impact you on a personal level. To avoid the legal and personal ramifications of dating while in the middle of a divorce, it is best to wait.
THE LEGAL IMPACT OF DATING DURING A DIVORCE
- Custody and visitation: If you share children with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse, dating during the divorce proceedings can get hairy when trying to settle custody and parenting time issues. Your children might not like your new partner and refuse to spend time with you. Although the wishes of children do not determine the outcome of a custody battle, the court will always put the best interests of the children first. If it seems you are being selfish or disregarding your children's feelings, or if your new partner has a shady past or criminal history, this can affect the outcome of your case, tipping the scales in favor of your ex-spouse.
- Child support and spousal support: Dating does not usually have an impact on child support or spousal support, but if you decide to move in with your new partner, this can change the equation and will certainly have an impact on the amount of support you receive. Living with your new partner means you will have access to more funds, which means, if you are the person who is likely to receive spousal support, the amount your ex is ordered to pay will be reduced. In fact, if your new partner is very well off, you might not receive any spousal support, costing you thousands of dollars.
- Property Division: Judges are supposed to make unbiased decisions regarding any of the issues addressed during the divorce process, including property division. Like anyone else, they are human and prone to having their own opinions about you and their actions, so if a judge dislikes you for your behavior, particularly if the presence of a new partner is impacting your children, you might not be in good standing with the judge, which can harm your case. As is the case with spousal support and child support, if you are living with your new partner, the judge might factor this into the division of property. Given that sharing expenses with another person put you in a better financial position, the outcome of property and asset division might not go in your favor.
THE PERSONAL IMPACT OF DATING DURING A DIVORCE
- Your Relationship With Your Ex-Spouse: You might not care about what your spouse thinks, but the fact is that if she or he is angry about the speed with which you reentered the dating scene, a divorce that could have settled amicably might suddenly become difficult, time-consuming, and expensive. An irrationally angry ex-spouse is unlikely to make the divorce process easy on you and will likely try to fight you on issues that you might have otherwise easily reached a resolution on. He or she might also attempt to alienate the children, relatives, or mutual friends against you.
- Your Relationship With Your Children: It is hard for children to cope with the divorce of their parents and even harder to adjust to the presence of a new partner in a parent's life. Naturally, if you begin dating so early on, it might cause your children to be alienated from you, sometimes in drastic and irreparable ways. They might feel as though you abandoned the other parent, regardless of the actual reasons for your split. As such, they will align themselves with the other parent and refuse to accept your new partner. If you wait longer, they might be more willing to accept a new person in your life. It is important to understand the delicate nature of this situation and to slowly ease your children into this major change.
- Your Own Wellbeing: A divorce is not an easy experience for either spouse to endure, no matter who initiated it or if it was mutually desired. The process can take time, during which you might go through some intense emotional and psychological changes. In fact, many often change their perspective on life as they go through this tumultuous time, which is why making major life decisions or entering new long-term relationships is generally unwise. Doing so can introduce a whole new set of variables you might not be prepared to deal due to your circumstances.
Ultimately, no one can make this decision for you but yourself, but it is best not to date during a divorce and certainly better to hold off on living with a new partner until your divorce is finalized. If you absolutely must date, be discreet, try not to share the news with anyone, and wait until an appropriate time before you decide to introduce him or her to your children.
Murrieta Divorce Attorney
At Westover Law Group, our Murrieta divorce attorneys understand that you and your family are in need of legal representation you can rely on. Our firm is led by Andrew L. Westover, a Certified Family Law Specialist by the California Board of Legal Specialization, placing him among the top 3% of attorneys who have successfully gone through this rigorous training.
If you are considering a divorce or have been served with papers, it is crucial to obtain qualified representation. With us, you will receive a team of trusted divorce advocates who will fight for the best possible outcome for your case, help you seek resolutions in a non-confrontational manner, and handle all divorce-related issues, including child custody and property division.