Is It Okay to Date During My Divorce?
One question that often arises during a divorce is whether it is legal or proper for a party to date while the case is pending. It is an understandable concern. Many individuals have not either come to grips with the idea of being divorced or are emotionally unprepared to go out find another companion. On the other hand, other individuals have ceased having love and strong emotional ties to their spouse and are ready to go on with their life by searching for someone else to date.
Is it Illegal to Date While Going Through a Divorce?
In Florida, it is not illegal for a person who is a party to a divorce case to date other people. Remarriage, of course, is not possible until the divorce is finalized, and a final judgment of dissolution of marriage decree has been entered. Therefore, it is perfectly legal to date others while your divorce works its way through the court system.
Having said that, a very different question is whether dating during divorce is prudent. There are many aspects of a divorce case that can be affected by one or both of the spouses dating.
Keeping Friendly Relations with the Family
If you are thinking of pursuing another relationship while your divorce is pending, you may want to pause for a moment and consider the effects the new relationship will have on your current spouse and your children. They may become emotionally upset by your decision. If you have children, they may become confused and upset if you form a new romantic bond with someone who is not their parent. This new person in your life may contribute to any feelings of alienation and abandonment they are already be feeling.
Similarly, your spouse may become hostile. The divorce may become more contentious, acrimonious, and drag on longer than anticipated as a result. It also may become more costly.
Child Visitation and Parenting Plans May Be Affected.
If you are seeking extensive visitation rights with your children, your parenting plan may be affected by your dating. If your spouse is opposed to your request to begin with, it becomes very tempting for them to make the argument that your new relationship shows that you are more focused on yourself and your romantic life than on the well-being and best interests of your children. If you and your new romantic partner decide to cohabit, it becomes possible to argue that you are now exposing your children to inappropriate situations.
These arguments may sound quaint or old-fashioned, but a court could still be persuaded to reject your temporary timesharing requests, or to award more visitation time to your spouse. Even if the court does not do so, your spouse and opposing attorney could manage to drag the court case out while arguing over the matter, which adds to time and expense of your divorce.
Property Distribution or Support Awards May Be Affected.
If you move in with your dating partner, then that could reduce any temporary alimony support award that you might receive during the divorce since your monthly housing and living expenses will be reduced. If you gave marital property to your new romantic interest, the Court could deduct those items from the equitable division of marital property that is ultimately determined in the divorce.
It May Be Tempting to Keep the New Romance Secret.
It may possible that you may be able to keep your new romance from the attention of your spouse. But it is unlikely that you will be able to keep it completely hidden. The prevalence of social media and digital cameras in society means that your odds of keeping this relationship secret are much lower than in the past. Even after the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage is entered, if your ex-spouse realizes that you were dating during the divorce in secret, it may compel him or her to try re-open the divorce case and modify the Final Judgment, the marital property division, and/or the parenting plan primarily out of anger. It is best to keep this new relationship very low profile and out of the public eye during the divorce and until at least 6 months after the Final Judgment has been entered.
If You Are In Sarasota or Manatee Counties and Getting Divorced, then Contact Divorce Lawyer Matthew Martell for Help.
For over twenty years, the Law Offices of Matthew Z. Martell have handled divorces and other family law matters with the highest standards of professional competence and personal compassion. If you are in Sarasota or Manatee Counties, including the cities of Sarasota, Bradenton, and Venice, Florida, and need the assistance of a very good divorce lawyer, then please contact us today to schedule a 15 minute free initial phone consultation.