Am I Allowed to Date While Going Through a Divorce?
Whatever the reason for your divorce, the process can be stressful, overwhelming and lonely. If you happen to meet someone, or get to a place where you are ready to start dating, but your divorce has not yet been finalized, there are some important “dos and don’ts of dating” that you should keep in mind so that your personal life does not have a negative impact on your divorce settlement. A skilled divorce lawyer can assist you with this process and recommend the best legal course of action.
Is It Legal to Date While Going Through a Divorce?
From a legal perspective, if you start dating after you and your spouse have physically separated, it is unlikely that a judge will punish you, or hold it against you when ruling on a settlement outcome. There are potential consequences that you should be aware of if you start dating, or you are already in a new relationship, including the following:
- You may not be emotionally ready for a new relationship. Going through a divorce is an emotional rollercoaster, and even if you are ready to end the marriage, there are a lot of feelings to process. If the marriage ended because your spouse was unfaithful, you may have confidence issues, question whether you are still attractive, or develop trust issues. Even if the divorce was relatively amicable, if you do not resolve some of the issues that lead to the divorce, you could end up bringing some of those same issues to the new relationship.
- Dating could complicate the settlement process. If you start dating, but your spouse is not dating, or is having a hard time getting over the divorce, they become jealous or unreasonable and try to make the process more difficult instead of finalizing the divorce and moving on. While there is no legal reason preventing you from dating before your divorce has been finalized, you may want to consider holding off on dating until the divorce agreement has been signed.
- Your spouse may accuse you of having an affair. If your spouse is enraged about your new relationship, they may raise suspicions about when the relationship started, and accuse you of having an extramarital affair. In some cases, your new partner may be subpoenaed by your spouse’s lawyer to testify at your trial, which is awkward and uncomfortable for everyone involved. The goal of the deposition is to determine when the relationship began, whether it is sexual, whether any marital property was transferred to the new partner, whether a significant amount of money was spent on the new relationship, and whether there is any other evidence that can prove or dispute an affair.
- A new relationship can be difficult for the children. When a couple divorces, it impacts the entire family. Children experience a range of emotions, from depression and anxiety to feelings of abandonment and wondering if the divorce was their fault. This is a lot to process. Introducing your children to a new love interest may be too much for them to handle. Your children’s health and happiness should be the top priority as you navigate the complex, and often painful divorce process. Once the dust has settled, you can start dating again. Be honest with your children about your intention to start dating and encourage them to ask questions and voice their opinions.
What are the Don’ts of Dating During a Divorce?
In order to prevent unnecessary complications, stress, aggravation, and additional expenses, it is particularly important that you strongly consider the things that you should avoid doing, including the following:
- Do not date until you have physically separated from your spouse. Even if you and your spouse both agree that the marriage is over, a judge may award more of the marital assets to your spouse if he or she determines that your relationship was responsible for the failure of your marriage.
- If you do start dating after you have physically separated, be respectful of your children’s feelings. Do not do anything that would make them uncomfortable, like unnecessary physical contact, flirtatious comments or body language, or pressuring your children to spend time with this new person. It is recommended that you hold off on dating until your divorce has been finalized, and that you do not introduce your children to a new partner until you have been dating for at least six months.
- Do not use dating apps. You may assume that this information that you post on a dating app is anonymous. However, that information is public, and if your spouse sees your posts, he or she could use that against you in court.
- Do not post pictures of you and your new partner on social media. This can be used against you by your spouse, particularly if your posts include pictures of you going on lavish vacations or to expensive restaurants on a regular basis.
- Do not attempt to have a child with your new partner before your divorce has been finalized. If you or your partner does become pregnant, the court will need to verify paternity and determine who will be responsible for custody and support payment, which will prolong the case.
When it comes to dating during a divorce, there are things that you can, and should do that will allow you to socialize and get the support you need, while ensuring that you do not jeopardize the outcome of your settlement. The following are examples of some of the “dos of dating:”
- If you meet someone that you are interested in getting to know better, be upfront about your situation. Let them know that you are getting a divorce, and that you would be interested in getting together once you are legally separated, or after the divorce has been finalized.
- Join a divorce support group. This will help you cope with your feelings and give you the opportunity to bond with people who are experiencing some of the same struggles as you.
- Seek additional support and guidance from a licensed therapist. Whether your divorce is amicable or contentious, it is very common to struggle with a range of emotions like heart-break, anger, rejection, betrayal and a sense of failure, which can make it difficult to move on from the relationship. Divorce can also take an emotional toll on your children, particularly when they see their parents fighting with each other. Oftentimes, they worry that the divorce is their fault, or that they contributed to the breakdown of the marriage. A trained therapist can help you work through your feelings and provide a range of tools that can help you and your children navigate this difficult time with a more positive outlook.
Somerville Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Address Dating Issues During a Divorce
If you have legal concerns about dating during a divorce, do not hesitate to contact the Somerville divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. at your earliest convenience. We will provide the legal guidance you need to avoid some of the common pitfalls and mistakes people make when they start dating during the divorce process. Our skilled legal team will protect your rights, address all of your questions and concerns about dating, and ensure that you receive the maximum financial settlement you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 908-575-9777 or contact us online. With offices in Somerville, Freehold, and Morristown, New Jersey, we assist clients throughout Somerset, Woodbridge, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.