When someone is divorcing, sometimes the notion of dating again is the furthest thing from a spouse's mind. Other times, especially when a marriage has been on the rocks for some time, the idea of taking comfort in a new, loving relationship is appealing.
Dating before a divorce is finalized is questionable territory, and raises many ethical questions. Is it considered cheating? Is it fair to the kids? Will it hurt the case before the judge signs off on the divorce?
How Dating Can Hurt a Divorce Case
Though California is a "no fault" divorce state, it does not mean that it's advisable to re-enter the dating scene while your divorce is pending. Dating can reflect poor judgment, and indicate that you are not acting in your children's best interests, but rather putting your own needs first.
Child custody: Courts want to see that children of divorce are given first priority, and if the case is close, they may choose the other parent who is not dating.
Settlement negotiations: If your spouse isn't ready to end the marriage or end things amicably, they may not respond well to news that you're dating someone new. If you have been trying to negotiate a divorce settlement, your spouse's anger and emotions could get the best of them and make negotiations next to impossible.
Spousal support: The purpose of spousal support is to ensure that the lower-earning spouse isn't impoverished because of the divorce, and to help them live a lifestyle that is similar to what was enjoyed during the marriage. If you end up moving in with your new boyfriend or girlfriend, the court may assume that you are sharing expenses, and therefore don't need as much support.
Be Sure to Exercise Discretion
If you have met someone new and you intend to pursue the relationship, even though your divorce is not finalized, be sure to exercise discretion. Don't introduce your friend to your children until the divorce is final and you think they're ready for it.
Also, avoid going places with your date where you're likely to run into your spouse or their friends. Above all, clear it with your divorce attorney first, just in case there are potential complications that you have yet to learn about.
Of course, every marriage and relationship is unique in its own way. Only you know the intricacies of your relationship and whether dating someone new would negatively affect your spouse, your children, and your divorce proceedings.
Contact Cutter & Lax for a free consultation with an Encino divorce attorney who is board certified in family law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization!