Nobody wants to go through a divorce. The pain, emotional trauma, and stress are hard on a person. Many people end up feeling isolated and lonely as they go through the process. Humans are social creatures and innately crave acceptance. Since divorce can be a lengthy process, a spouse may begin dating before it is finalized.

However, dating can have some legal consequences that could affect you while finalizing the divorce, so it is important to be careful with your approach. This article will discuss ways you can go about dating in a smart, safe, and courteous way.

Legal Matters

Spousal Support

Spousal support, sometimes called alimony, involves payments made to an ex-spouse according to a divorce decree. These payments help close the gap on any wage disparity between the parties. -For example, one spouse may have stayed home with children and not worked, so he or she has no job and no income after divorce.

This situation helps spouses receiving support maintain the same lifestyles they had when they were married. If you date before your divorce is finalized, it could be difficult or impossible for you to get any spousal support. It can also have an impact on the amount you eventually get.

As the name implies, a “fault divorce” is granted on the basis of the fault of one party. For example, reasons for a fault divorce can include adultery, impotence, or incarceration. Depending on which state you are in, your dating could be considered adultery, and your spousal support could be denied. Therefore, living with the person you are dating means you may not get spousal support.

You will also want to consider your marital property, and how it is divided. Your spouse may take offense to you dating, which would make the division of marital property more difficult. Money received from property settlements is not taxable income, so your spouse could consider giving you marital property but no ongoing support. However, if you date before the divorce is finalized, it could change his or her mind.

Court Proceedings

The way your case is settled could affect you while you are dating.
Because your spouse is upset that you are dating somebody else, your settlement could be more complicated, and the settlement strategy could be changed.

For example, you may have wanted a lump sum of support. But if you are dating somebody, your spouse may want to make support payments over time, so that he or she can stop once you start living with your new partner.

Custody

If you choose to date while divorcing, it can certainly affect your relationship with your children. And your spouse may feel that he or she has to battle with you, as it feels like you are replacing him or her with a new person. In addition, your children may not want to be around you, as you have a new person to complicate his or her already tumultuous life. Children may flat-out refuse to spend time with you during your designated co-parenting days, and in the absolute worst-case scenarios, the relationship between you and your kids will completely break down.

You love your children and certainly want to spend time with them. Putting your kids through any sort of harm (such as the stress of meeting someone who appears to be a replacement for the other parent) will not be looked on favorably. A judge will see the harm you are bringing to your children, so your custody agreement may suffer.

Courts generally do not favor parties dating during a divorce.

Dating Dos

The decision to date is very personal and should be treated with care and respect for all sides involved, especially your children. In the forthcoming passages, we will discuss the “dos and don’ts” of dating while finalizing a divorce.

Socializing

Group socializing is important, so you don’t feel so alone. By making connections and forming a circle of friends, you will have something to look forward to and a place to feel accepted. This goal can sometimes be a challenge, as you likely developed friendships while you were married that you had to cut off. Therefore, it is important to go out, meet new people, and forge ahead.

When searching for new friends, you might feel unsure about where to begin. Think about the hobbies you enjoy, and seek others who share these interests. Go to networking events for your career. Talk to others and make connections.

You may find someone you are interested in dating, but you should start slowly and simply exchange contact information. You can take down his or her contact information, and let him or her know about your relationship. Then when the time is right, you can set up a time to meet.

Always be honest about your situation with whomever you meet.

Support Yourself with the Right Group

You can avoid making unwise choices about dating by finding a related support group. The group can be a formal support group, or a group of friends you trust to talk about the issues at hand. A web search will give you ideas about support groups in your area that deal with divorce, or you can check with your workplace or house of worship for ideas about divorce support. Otherwise, connect with people you trust, and make a space to safely discuss the issues at hand.

Understand it is okay to feel what you feel. Don’t try to suppress it or fight it. Grief and confusion are a natural, normal feeling during this time. If you do not cope with the issues and feelings, you cannot get past them. You will need to make sure you have worked through all of your own issues before starting a new relationship. Then you will make sure your new relationship is as healthy as it can be.

Dating Don’ts

Now we will discuss some things to avoid as you start thinking about dating again.

Dating and Living Together

Divorced spouses only separate overnight in movies. You have probably found that living together after divorce is necessary for monetary and logistic reasons, although it can be uncomfortable. You will want to avoid dating while you are residing together. For one thing, living together and dating means that your social life could be used as a reason why the marriage failed.

If you live in a fault state, you will see legal consequences if you date while still living with your spouse. In some states, this situation is considered adultery.

Dating and Your Children

Legal consequences aside, it is advised that you do not bring your date around for the sake of your children. They are already confused, hurt, and sad about what their future holds. You do not want to add to their confusion by bringing around a new partner before the divorce has even been finalized. Plus, if you do not know this person well, you probably do not want them around your children.

Children are much smarter and more receptive than we give them credit for, which applies to your actions during this critical time in life. Do not do anything around your children that you would not want to explain to the judge. If you do, you could have more legal consequences to contend with.

If your children are old enough to read and write, chances are they use social media to vent their frustrations and connect with others about their lives. They may also post information you would rather not have anyone see. Therefore, conduct yourself in a way that sets a good example for your children, and monitor their social media use.

Lastly, when you choose to date, make sure you take it seriously. Dating can be easy if you are in an enjoyable stage of the relationship with no real problems, and you focus on having fun and getting to know each other. People often mistake feelings of lust for love, then suffer a painful breakup. If this situation transpires, you end up hurting your children even more. They won’t know what to expect if you keep seeing different partners.

Pregnancy and Dating

While it may seem obvious, you are advised against encouraging a pregnancy to occur during a divorce. If you live in a fault state, the pregnancy will have legal consequences. Aside from your own feelings, consider the hurt you will cause your spouse, and the confusion your children will feel. Furthermore, when the child is born, will you love the child, or will he or she be a point of resentment? Do the right thing, and avoid bringing others into a bad situation.

You also will be required to obtain a DNA test by the court, which will prolong your divorce proceedings. All things considered, it is easier to make smart choices about dating and sexual intercourse by abstaining until the time is right.

Do Not Flaunt a New Relationship

Once you start a new relationship, it is exciting and fresh. If you have done it correctly, you have come a long way: You have worked through your grief, made sure to look for someone who has everything you desire, and decided to make yourself vulnerable again. Be sure that you approach it in the right way, so stay away from places you and your spouse used to go, such as bars, restaurants, or local attractions.

You will also want to stay away from dating any of your spouse’s friends. It will likely bring negative feelings and resentment to the already stressful relationship. One relationship already has not worked out, so do not complicate another relationship and possibly ruin a friendship in the process. Furthermore, the friend you wish to date may have a sense of loyalty to your spouse, and he or she could use the relationship as a way of turning everything back onto you. Although you have likely known this person for years and feel comfortable with him or her, it is simply not worth the risk.

Lastly, you will want to make sure that you keep any and all new relationships off social media. Do not post pictures of yourself and your new partner. Do publicly ask about any of the locations of your dates. Do not allow yourself to be tagged in photos, especially the ones that contain questionable material, such as gambling or drinking.

Avoid sharing any memes or other media, as you never know what will come up in court. Your social media account can be used against you. If possible, you will just want to stop using it altogether, so that you do not have to worry.

Conclusion

In closing, we ask one question: Should you date while your divorce is being finalized? The answer to this question is not easy. Every situation is different, and every situation is unique.

If you feel ready to date, make sure you are thinking through all possibilities, and being smart about it. Be sure to consider the feelings of your spouse as you decide how to proceed. Think of your children as well. They are just as confused and concerned about what their future holds as you are. Adding another layer of worry to the situation will only make everyone feel worse.

By waiting, you will have nothing to lose. But by moving too quickly, your actions can be used against you in court.

The question of whether or not to date while finalizing a divorce is not a straightforward one, and the best-laid plans can fail. However, you may just be successful in finding a new relationship filled with love, happiness, and a sense of fulfillment, all while getting through your divorce unscathed. It is ultimately up to each individual to decide what is best for his or her unique situation.