Divorce is a lonely prospect. Having someone to lean on for comfort and support can make the process a little more bearable–and remind you that there will be a new life after your divorce. But is it actually a good idea to date while getting divorced?
From a legal standpoint, it’s not ideal. In actuality, once a couple has physically separated, judges rarely punish someone who begins dating, whether the relationship is sexual or platonic. But dating can add a new set of stresses and aggravation to an already delicate process.
If there is someone in your life already, or even if you are spending a lot of time with someone platonically, it is important to be aware of potential consequences to you, your children and the terms of your divorce.
DON’T date before physically separating from your spouse.
Situations of this sort often drive up the cost and complexity of the divorce. A judge might see infidelity as the reason for the divorce, and this could negatively impact your divorce agreement and custody rights if you have children.
DON’T date openly.
It could upset the soon-to-be ex-spouse and cause them to reject prior agreements. It could also open the door for the opposing counsel to claim you were having an affair during the marriage. Your new friend or romantic partner could even be called to testify under oath in a deposition about the nature of the relationship, when it began, and more.
DON’T use dating apps.
You may feel anonymous, but the information you post on dating apps and websites is public, and could be used against you in court if your ex discovers it. At the very least, be cautious about what your profile says and how it would look to a judge.
DON’T introduce your children to a new love interest.
This could cause your children emotional confusion and pain, not just your ex.
DON’T get pregnant or impregnate someone else.
Pregnancy will likely delay the divorce until the baby is born in order to verify paternity and determine custody and child support, significantly increasing the time and expense of an already difficult process.
DON’T think you have to go it alone.
It’s important to connect with others who let you vent and cry, but also laugh, have fun, and remind you that life will get better.
This brings us to the DO’s of dating and connecting with others during the divorce.
DO seek support.
Support groups, friends and family can be a great comfort to you and your kids. Kids in the Middle is one St. Louis area organization that specializes in helping families cope with difficult transitions. Look for signs that you’re experiencing Post-Traumatic Growth. Psychology Today describes post-traumatic growth as the realization that there can be a positive psychological aspect to a life crisis, and “adversity can unintentionally yield changes in understanding oneself, others, and the world”.
DO socialize and network in groups.
Try not to pair off with anyone to avoid the appearance of an extramarital relationship, particularly if you aren’t yet separated from your spouse.
DO be careful around your kids.
If you already have a new romantic partner or close friend, remember that what you do and say in front of your children could come back to haunt you. If it’s something you would hesitate to describe to judge in court, then it’s not for your children to see or know.
DO be honest with potential romantic partners.
If you meet someone you are attracted to, let them know your situation, and why it is probably not a good idea to move forward romantically until the divorce is final.
Remember, hard as it is, divorce is simply a stage you are going through right now. The process will move faster by keeping things simple, and before long, you will be free to move forward as you choose.
With a combined 30 years in family law, the attorneys at Jones Family Law Group, LLC, will provide the legal guidance you need. For questions or to schedule a confidential consultation, call 314-449-8830.