You can, but we do not recommend it. Here’s why dating before your divorce is final is a bad idea:
- Dating, at least if it includes sexual contact, is considered adultery (link to grounds blog here). Adultery gives your soon-to-be-ex “grounds” for divorce. This is true even if s/he cheated first.
- Dating before the divorce is final almost always makes an already emotional situation worse. This disrupts communication necessary to bring your divorce to an amicable and efficient end.
- Dating before the divorce is final almost always drives up attorney fees, for no other reason than we usually have to “explain” the circumstances of the dating relationship. When did it begin? Have the children been around your new friend?
- Dating while your marriage is ending is not fair to your new love interest. You are on the rebound. Don’t forget that emotional truth.
- Dating while still married confuses children of all ages. No, teenagers do not handle it well and yes, small children do notice. This new relationship almost always forces children to feel they must “take sides.” Kids routinely ask questions like, “should I be nice to Daddy’s new girlfriend?” or “Is this fellow going to be my new daddy someday?” These questions are impossible for you to answer.
- Dating while married sends a message to your children that your love life is more important than their needs, right when they need you most.
- Dating costs money. That money is still “marital money.” The Judge may penalize you for spending marital money on your love interest by taking that money out of your share of the marital estate, or by ordering you to pay alimony.
- Living with your new love interest is even worse. If you may have been entitled to alimony before, you almost certainly will not get alimony if you are living with your new friend.
- Dating while still married is such a bad idea that the Court may consider you to have bad judgment and/or to put your own needs before the needs of your children. This could negatively impact your bid for custody of your children.
- Remember: online dating is still dating. And even worse, it’s easy for your X’s attorney to document what you are doing. If you wouldn’t want a judge to see what you are doing, do not do it – in real life or online.
Yes, there are defenses. These include:
- Unclean hands – i.e. “they can’t say anything because they did it first”
- Condonation – i.e. “we had sex after they found out I had cheated.”
- Connivance – i.e. “He was kinky and made me have sex with that man.”
But the problem with a “defense” is that you are now on the defensive. That is nowhere you want to be when you are dealing with a divorce. So, should you date during your divorce?
No. Give it a minute. Your life is about to get much better when this divorce is over. They’ll wait until we can get our work done.
This article was written by Margaret Held, founding attorney of Held Law Firm. To speak to Margaret or any of our other family law attorneys, give us a call at 865 637 6550 and we’ll set you up!