Dating during divorce may not render you the best outcome in your situation. You can try to rationalize so many ways but the reality is you can’t unless it’s an Uncontested divorce and it’s near the end. I understand that in cases where the divorce has been dragging on for years, where your spouse cheated several times, where you get lonely, etc. But if you’re expecting a property distribution, spousal support or alimony and most importantly, child custody then hold off on having coffee with the “hot guy” may be wise.
When Legal Separation is the Better Route
Dating During Divorce Grounds
As I’ve discussed before, (for the discussion on no fault laws read here www.) most states have some form of “no fault” as divorce grounds. What that means is that neither spouse has to allege anything specific as their reason for divorce. However, there are instances where either spouse may want to use adultery as the basis for divorce. Adultery is when a married person has sexual intercourse with another person other than their spouse. The implications of adultery in a divorce can be catastrophic.
Spousal support, child custody and property distribution determinations are all impacted by alleging and proving adultery. Dating during divorce, no matter what stage the divorce is at, is in fact adultery. Doesn’t matter if the other spouse knows of the adulterous affair or even if both the parties are having an affair, it’s still adultery.
If the petitioning spouse chooses to use adultery as grounds, whether they can substantiate their claim or not, it can give that spouse the upper hand with respect to settlement negotiations.
Dating and Child Custody/Visitation
While the divorce is pending there is usually some form of temporary order for custody and visitation. And although the terms in the order can vary from case to case, some things are pretty customary. Customary provisions are usually based on what your particular jurisdiction’s considers the “norm”.
Many jurisdictions, upon either party’s request, can include what is called a “morality clause,”. This clause covers parents romantic or social life activities. The clauses usually imposes specific limitations with the intention to maintain some sense of decency while coparenting. Some of these clauses merely dictate at which point parents can introduce the kids to romantic partners. While others go as far as prohiting extended periods of time in partners’ presence or overnight visits. Again, in some jurisdictions these clauses can be pretty routine while in others they are frowned upon. Either way, limits can be put on parents’ ability to see other people, even while the divorce is pending.
Dating and Alimony
Alimony or spousal support guidelines varies from state to state. The premise behind it though is pretty consistent amongst the states. The purpose is “to limit any unfair economic effects of a divorce by providing a continuing income to a non-wage-earning or lower-wage-earning spouse. Part of the justification is that an ex-spouse may have chosen to forego a career to support the family, and needs time to develop job skills to support themselves. Another purpose may be to help a spouse continue the standard of living they had during marriage despite changes to income, income tax, bonuses, taxable income, tax returns and etc.” (Source. Findlaw.com)
There is discretion with respect to which factors are given consideration. Weighing the discretionary factors determines who gets alimony, for how long and how much. However, most alimony awards are conditioned upon the awardee maintaining “unmarried” or “non-cohabitation” status. Although judges won’t sign off on an Agreement that terminates spousal support merely because the awardee is dating, if the dating lead to cohabitation they mpst certainly will.
Dating and Property Distribution
As stated earlier, if adultery is alleged and proven the courts can “punish” the adultering spouse by awarding a larger portion of marital assets. Particularly in equitable distribution states, as opposed to community property states, the courts will compensate the offended spouse with a more favorable property award.
In sum, dating during divorce should be done with much careful thought. I know that matters of the heart can take on a life of it’s own. However, I suggest weighing the costs of having am indulgent heart.