Can I Begin Dating While My Divorce Is Pending?

Like with all legal matters, whether you can (or even should) begin dating before your divorce is final depends on your particular situation.  It is definitely something you should discuss with your attorney.

If custody is in dispute, most judges will not look kindly on someone who exposes the children to a new paramour.  It usually takes a while for children to adjust to the separation of their parents, if they ever completely adjust to it.  They are also having to adjust to numerous other changes.  At least one parent is now living in a new home.  The children's family home may be sold as part of the divorce.  The children may be forced to change schools.  As their parent, you should not pile a new boyfriend or girlfriend on top of what the children have to deal with.  Add into this mix the fact that the person you are interested in dating may be hiding some secrets from you.  I had a case years ago where, against my advice, a young mom invited a "friend" and his daughter over to watch cartoons with her and her son while her divorce was pending.  They then fell asleep on the couch and the man and his daughter did not leave until the next morning.  Unbeknownst to her, she was being followed by her husband's private investigator who also dug up that her gentleman caller was on the sex offender registry.  Needless to say the judge was not pleased.

Another reason not to date during your divorce is if maintenance is at issue.  This may truly depend on the judge who is handling your case.  Some judges do not necessarily care if you date even if you are pursuing maintenance as long as you are not cohabiting.  Other judges have a much more conservative bent and follow a "pay to play" attitude.  In other words, if you have a boyfriend, you probably will not get maintenance.

A final concern about beginning to date before your divorce is final is just your own mental and emotional health.  As a general rule, I usually advise my clients not to begin dating or at least not a serious relationship for at least six months after the divorce is over.  I have seen so many people "on the rebound" jump right back into bad relationships.  During your divorce, you are dealing with so many other issues, both emotional and financial, it is not a good idea to add a new relationship into the mix.

As with anything else during your divorce be open and honest with your family law attorney about your plans.  The last thing your lawyer needs is to be learning new things in the middle of a hearing.  If you have more questions, contact the Alford Law Office.

Photo by Courtney Carmody

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