Posted on: 25 September 2015
Some divorces move so quickly that they're over with before you've had time to fully process. Others, however, can drag on for what seems like forever. If yours is the latter type of divorce, you may be wondering how long you have before it's OK to begin a relationship with someone new. You may even have a specific someone new in mind. It's understandable that after a long period of separation from someone that you don't intend to get back together with anyway, you may feel ready to move on. But if your divorce is taking a long time, it may not be in your best interest to get too serious with someone new. Take a look at a few reasons why.
Dating and Adultery Laws
If you enter into a sexual relationship with another party before your divorce is final, you're technically committing adultery. Worrying about that may seem silly with a divorce on the horizon. But what you may not realize is that many states – more than 20 of them, in fact – still have laws against adultery on their books. And while most of those states consider it just a misdemeanor, a few states, like Massachusetts and Oklahoma, have adultery classified as a felony.
Does this mean that you'll go to jail for dating someone before your divorce is final? No – that is highly unlikely to ever happen. Your district attorney isn't likely to have the time, the resources, or the inclination to pursue a criminal case against you for adultery in a marriage that's already ending anyway. However, your ex can use it against you during the divorce proceedings, and the accusation of adultery can affect how the judge views your case. That accusation may have even more impact with the weight of a state law behind it.
Dating and Child Custody
If you and your ex are disputing child custody, the fact that you're dating somebody else might be something that your ex can bring up in an effort to limit your time for the children. Your ex may argue that your dating life shows that you're more interested in your own wants and desires than in making sure that your children are adjusting to your separation and divorce. This may not be a fair argument – if you've been separated for a long time, it's possible that your children have already adjusted and are doing fine – but this doesn't mean that the judge won't consider the argument valid anyway, especially if you live in a very conservative region.
You should also be very careful about who you bring around your children after separating from your spouse. If your ex is angry with you or suspicious of you and if they have a good lawyer, you can probably assume that their lawyer will investigate your new love interest. Any skeletons in that person's closet may also be held against you in a custody hearing, even if you didn't know about them.
Dating and Alimony
If you intend to collect alimony from your spouse, dating before the divorce is final could factor into to how much you get or whether you get anything. In a no-fault divorce, your new relationship probably won't matter. But keep in mind that if your ex discovers that you're in a new relationship, he or she may be able to change their divorce filing from a no-fault divorce to a divorce on the grounds of adultery.
Depending on where you are, this can have a big effect on whether or not you get alimony. In some states, you may not be eligible for alimony at all if you're found to be at fault for the divorce because of adultery. In other places, you may still be eligible for alimony, but the judge may reduce the amount if you're found to be at fault, or partially at fault. Keep in mind that cohabitating with a new love interest is likely to reduce or eliminate alimony as well, as your ex can argue that your new partner is or should be supporting you.
Before you allow yourself to get deeply involved in a new relationship, it's a good idea to ask the family law attorney who is handling your divorce how a new relationship may affect the outcome of your divorce case. If you're not currently being represented by a family law attorney, this is a good time to find one. Not only can a good divorce attorney advise you about the impact of a new relationship on your divorce, an attorney may also be able to help you speed up the process so that you can move on with your life. Contact a firm like GSJones Law Group, P.S. for more information.Share