Is dating during a divorce a bad idea? Here are the things you need to consider.
If you have recently begun the divorce process it’s likely that you will experience loneliness, isolation, and a craving for companionship. These feelings, coupled with a strong desire to move forward and on to a better chapter of life, compels many people to consider dating even when their divorce is still in process.
But are there potential risks to dating during a divorce? Unfortunately, the problems that can arise from beginning a new relationship before your divorce is finalized are substantial and potentially long-lasting. While dating someone new may provide some short-term emotional relief, it’s much more likely that it will add challenges to your situation which will cause more difficulties than good.
Here are the main things to bear in mind before you start dating during a divorce…
Just because your divorce has been filed does not mean that you are no longer married to that person. You are not legally considered divorced until a judge has signed your Final Decree of Divorce (the official final orders in your divorce case). If you enter into a relationship with someone new or begin dating during your divorce case (no matter how long you and your spouse have been physically or emotionally separated), the court could consider this relationship in your case and not in a positive way.
It’s even more important that you do not begin dating if you have not yet separated from the spouse that you are divorcing. You may have grown emotionally distant, but if you are not physically separated there is an even higher chance that it could be seen by both the judge and your spouse as a factor in the divorce or a reason for the failure of the marriage.
The Financial Risks of Dating During Divorce
Dating during divorce may not feel like adultery, but it’s necessary to remember how it could look in the eyes of the law. In Texas, if a spouse is suspected of committing adultery, the other spouse has the ability to request a disproportionate share of the community estate that the couple own together. Disproportionate means greater than a 50 percent share of the community estate!
The reason behind this is that the state of Texas acknowledges that sometimes infidelity is not only a breaking of the bond of trust in a marriage, but can also be a breaking of the financial bond between two spouses. For example, if one spouse took money from a joint bank account to purchase a car for their paramour, that could affect how a judge decides to award the remaining portion of the community estate in that divorce case.
Dating during a divorce can also bring your morals under scrutiny, especially if you and your spouse have children together. We are sometimes asked – “Can dating during divorce affect custody?” – while the answer may not be directly yes, the reality is that a judge will always view custody cases as it regards the “best interest of the child”. If a new relationship is seen as inappropriate or not in the best interest of the children, it could possibly affect how the court awards custody rights. Just the small act of introducing a new date to your children could be considered contrary to maintaining a best interest for your children.
Even if you attempt to keep a dating relationship hidden from your spouse and children, any email, text messages, phone calls, or other communication that is discovered can be brought to light during your divorce (more details in our blog on social media use during divorce), which can damage your case.
Legal reasons aside, there are many emotional reasons to give yourself and everyone else involved, some time before entering into a dating relationship. It is normal to desire the feeling of being wanted and needed by someone new after you have begun the divorce process, but it is doubtful that jumping into a new relationship will help you heal (at least early on). And even if you are emotionally ready to start dating again, your soon to be ex-spouse or your children may not be ready for it.
For many people who have gone through a difficult or even traumatic divorce, it’s healthier for both themselves and a potential, future dating partner, that they invest in their own healing process before starting a new relationship.
Your Relationship with your Spouse
Emotions can become raw during a divorce, even when it begins amicably. The tone of your divorce can take a turn for the worse if you start seeing someone else before the divorce is finalized. It can feel like rubbing salt in a wound to the other spouse. It is also easy to raise suspicions of the other spouse about when the new relationship actually started.
The added challenges of heightened emotions can, and often do, lead to additional costs and time spent arguing during a divorce case. Especially if you have children and end up sharing custody, it is beneficial to everyone involved to maintain a cooperative relationship with your spouse during your divorce.
Your Relationship with your Children
If you and your spouse have children, waiting to date until after your divorce is final is often the best choice for their sake. Even if they understand the reasons their parents have made the decision to separate, divorce is a stressful experience for most children.
Introducing a new partner to your children too soon can be confusing for them and increase their stress surrounding the situation. It’s important to allow your children the time they need to process the change in their family situation before adding a new relationship into the mix, and can help avoid any possible negative impact on your relationship with them.
Get Advice from an Experienced Texas Family Law Attorney
Divorce proceedings can range from straightforward and amicable to complicated and adversarial, and often change from one to the other quickly. Because of this, it is best to avoid unnecessary complications during your divorce.
After your divorce is finalized, you will have the freedom to date again without having to worry about how it will affect the outcome of your divorce case.
Whenever you have questions about what behavior is appropriate when filing for divorce, it is best to ask a qualified attorney. Kelly J. Capps is an experienced family law attorney and can explain the legal aspects of your case and offer tips to help make sure you get a fair settlement. She works hard to find the best path for her clients to move their lives forward.