Dating and Your Divorce
Years ago, I had a client tell me the reason he was getting divorced was because his wife didn’t realize she had to quit dating when they got married. Obviously, you shouldn’t date while you are married. Right? But when is it ok to start dating?
I would advise you, no matter how long you’ve been in separate bedrooms or how long you’ve been without sex, is to wait until you have filed the divorce or until you have moved out of the home. That’s because once either of these events occur, adultery can no longer be pled as grounds for the divorce. Adultery, as long as you are still married, is still a misdemeanor but it is not routinely prosecuted.
Let me give you some examples of…
When it’s ok to date and when I say, “DON’T do it!”
- When the papers have been prepared and filed but not signed by the Judge. Dating is fine.
- You’ve given the divorce papers to your spouse but they haven’t signed yet. I would wait, but it’s not likely to be a problem as long as both parties are aware of the pending divorce.
- You’ve talked about divorce but live together and no papers are filed. Don’t do it.
- You’re out of town on business and have an unhappy marriage. Don’t do it.
- You are thinking about divorce and have mentioned it to your spouse. Don’t do it.
- Your divorce is final. Go for it.
- Your divorce is pending and a court date hasn’t been set. It’s ok to date, but don’t rub it in your spouse’s face and don’t include your children.
- Your divorce is being negotiated pending the court date. It’s ok to date, but be careful to be respectful of your spouse’s feelings. Angry people don’t negotiate as freely.
- Your spouse has filed for divorce but you’ve not been served. It’s ok to date. The filing date is what’s important.
- You have filed for divorce but your spouse hasn’t been served. It’s ok to date after you file but if you are still living in the home be respectful of your spouse.
You may look at the above and think it’s too complicated. It’s really not. But if you are concerned about how it’s going to look then wait. You will have the rest of your life to date other people. I would say to hold off if you are living in the same house even if it takes a long time to get to trial. Also, if you are seeking custody, don’t take a chance that the allegation will arise that you are more concerned about dating than your children.
I had a case once where we presented pages and pages of phone records to demonstrate that the Mom had been on the phone with a boyfriend at all hours of the night. We showed the times in correlation to the activities of the children. For instance, the kids came home from school at 3:00 pm. If she was on the phone from 4:00-5:00 then she obviously wasn’t spending time taking care of the children. It entailed calendars and time lines and phone records subpoenaed to make the case but we did it.
I had another case where my client was seeing someone while the case was pending. He would come home from work and she would stay on the phone texting and messaging all night while he took care of the kids needs. She was going out of time and meeting her boyfriend and leaving her children with my client. Was the adultery was an issue in the divorce? No, but her focus was called into question. Despite the fact she was a stay at home Mom, we won custody.
The issues in your case can impact whether you should date or not.
Let me give you some examples:
- Husband leaves wife and starts dating. He doesn’t want to support Mom, but by the time we are in divorce litigation he is living with a new girlfriend. He is supporting the new girlfriend so the Court will make him support his longsuffering wife.
- Wife wants alimony but during the divorce she starts living with someone else. She is not going to receive alimony.
- You are asking your spouse to pay half of your debt. You’ve been dating and have been paying for it on the joint credit card. Not a good idea!
- Wife wants alimony but was the cause of the dissolution of the marriage because she was having an affair. Probably not a good case for alimony. If she wants to be awarded alimony she should be staying at home.
You may be thinking, of course. Common sense. One would think so, but when you’ve been starved for affection for many years, it can seem irresistible. I promise you, it can wait!
Before you start dating, think about what it’s going to look like if it comes out in the Courtroom.