Dating after a divorce can be tricky business. You just got out of a relationship, and now you’re jumping back into the dating scene. But can I date before my divorce is final?
The simple answer is “yes.” However, you have to follow the rules. (Just because you’re dating doesn’t mean you’re divorced, right?!) The first thing to remember is that the length of time you wait to start dating after a divorce depends on your circumstances.
If your divorce is uncontested, you can get started again right away. If your ex-partner is trying to fight the divorce, you’ll have to wait it out.
In this article, Natalie Maximets explores in detail the ins and outs of dating before your divorce is final.
Falling In Love Before Your Divorce Is Final | The Do’s And Don’ts
Is it okay to start dating before your divorce is final? There is no right or wrong answer to this question. It all depends on your particular situation. How does your divorce go? Do you have any contested issues with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse? What does divorce law in your state say about dating during the process? If you have kids, how will they react? And finally, are you ready emotionally to go out with someone?
There are too many questions behind the curtain that you should consider, and today we’ll try to dig into them to get at least some answers.
How Dating and Falling in Love Before Divorce Is Final Might Affect the Process?
First, let’s clarify that dating doesn’t always lead to falling in love. What’s more, falling in love isn’t always the ultimate goal or result of dating.
The original meaning of the word “date” is spending time with a person you are interested in. This person may be of interest in terms of communication, joint activities, views on life, sex, etc.
In a perfect world, if a person interests you in every aspect, most likely this man or woman is your soulmate. But the world isn’t perfect. Sometimes people who thought they were each other’s soulmates find themselves applying for a divorce.
When it comes to dating other people during this process, not all soon-to-be-ex spouses use it to find true love. Mainly because they recently lost what they thought was true love.
Usually, people simply want to cope with loneliness, chit-chat with someone, forget about all the stress, get back on track, find out how things are going in the dating world, feel attractive again, bring some romance back into their lives, etc.
The bottom line here is that going out with someone during the divorce process is fine as long as you know what you are doing and why.
Dating May Not Be a Problem If…
In general, there is nothing wrong with dating someone during the divorce process, under the proviso that spouses separate peacefully and there are no conflicts between them. Moreover, you should be confident that no conflicts will arise if your spouse finds out that you see someone.
In some states, divorce proceedings can take quite a long time, and still-legally-married spouses don’t always wait for the official end of the process to begin rebuilding their lives. Sometimes, before even filing for divorce, the spouses already live separately, either of their own free will or by court order.
Some start a new life during this separation, going on dates occasionally, making new acquaintances, etc.
Thus, it may not be a problem to go on dates during the divorce if three crucial if’s are met:
- If marriage dissolution is only a matter of time, and the spouses managed to maintain a normal relationship;
- If you are sure that dating someone else won’t affect your relationship with your soon-to-be-ex, even if you separated amicably;
- If you don’t have any disputes regarding alimony, child custody, etc.
If you have the slightest doubt that your dating other people can affect the divorce process in any way, it is better to wait until it’s finalized because the consequences can be dire.
Possible Legal Consequences
From a legal point of view, dating is one-on-one social contact with another person. This contact can be platonic as well as romantic and sexual. The last two are of particular importance for the divorce proceedings.
If a spouse has sexual intercourse with a person other than their spouse, it can be considered adultery. In some states, marital infidelity is a ground for a fault-based divorce. Although dating does not always involve sexual intercourse, if you and your spouse had a bad breakup, they or their lawyers can play this card during the legal proceedings.
Let’s see how exactly it can influence the divorce process:
- It can cause additional costs and prolong the trial.
If the other party interprets dating as possible adultery, the judge may need to consider when this relationship started and whether it was the reason for the divorce. In this case, you will need to prove the opposite.
It can lead to additional costs, as, most likely, you’ll have to hire a lawyer and think about a line of defense. Moreover, disputes in the courtroom may prolong the proceeding.
- It can reduce the alimony payments.
Alimony or spousal support is temporary financial help that is paid to a spouse with a lower income. If you want to get it but are dating another person during the divorce process, the court may decide that you do not need such financial support or reduce its amount.
The situation can become even more complicated if you go beyond just dating and move in with this person.
- It can have a negative impact on child custody issues.
When a divorcing couple has children in common, they must resolve all issues related to custody. If one of the spouses is dating someone during the dissolution of the marriage, the court may consider how it affects the child’s wellbeing.
If the other party proves a negative effect on the child, the court may grant them full custody or reduce the dating spouse’s visiting hours. The child’s interests always come first, so the judge will sift out the facts to determine whether the spouses’ new relationships could harm the children.
Talking About Kids
It is important to note that dating during divorce can also have emotional consequences, especially on your children. Not only do they need to get used to the fact that their family, as they previously imagined it, has gone, but also that their parents move on and date other people.
It can traumatize children, causing confusion, anxiety, and additional stress. Thus, healing from divorce may take longer.
Sometimes children may feel guilty about their parents’ divorce. To recover, kids need stability and attention. Their parents cannot always give it to them if their focus is switched to something else, for instance, a new relationship or arranging their romantic life.
Moreover, if this new relationship fails, it will only exacerbate your children’s already dire emotional state and confusion.
Perhaps, it is better not to rush to dating in such a situation but to concentrate more on adapting yourself and your children to the new realities of life. Spend more time together, talk about your emotions, share your thoughts, answer their questions about divorce and try to explain that no matter what, their parents still love them.
Do your best to help your child get through this period in their life. In many ways, their reaction to your next relationship will depend on how they survive parental divorce.
Some Advice for Dating During Divorce
If you plan on dating before your divorce is finalized, you should be sure it won’t hurt anyone and anything. Although having someone to get away from stress or lean on for support can help during the divorce process, you should still do it carefully.
We’ve prepared the basic dating do’s and don’t that may help you avoid troubles.
Dating may not affect your divorce if you and your spouse are separated for a long time, if you don’t live in a state where the fault-based grounds for divorce are accepted, and if your divorce is uncontested.
However, divorce is a rather complicated process, and the situation can change dramatically at any time. Even if you and your spouse initially agreed on an amicable breakup, the news about you dating someone may make your spouse angry, jealous, sad, or cause other negative emotions.
In this case, your peaceful breakup can quickly turn into a conflict one. And the fact that you are dating someone can be used against you in court.
We’ve collected some crucial dating rules that can help you avoid possible claims from your spouse or judge:
- Try to escape from one-on-one dates, better to communicate in groups;
- If you meet someone you like, be honest about your situation;
- Think about how solid your new relationship is before introducing your date to anyone;
- Make sure dating is not affecting your role as a parent;
- Find a divorce support group to help you cope with loneliness.
If you consider dating as a game, remember that the stakes here can be pretty high: your relationship with your future ex, your relationship with your new date(s), your relationship with children, division of joint property, custody, alimony payments, etc.
Spouses who want to start dating during the divorce process should understand that their behavior can affect the case’s outcome.
Check out this list of basic don’ts that can help you avoid damaging the process and your relationships:
- Don’t go on dates while you are living with your spouse;
- Don’t get into unsafe situations and avoid controversial behavior that can be interpreted as indecent;
- Don’t do anything that you might feel uncomfortable talking about in court;
- Don’t introduce your new “friend” to your kids;
- Don’t get pregnant, and don’t impregnate anyone before divorce is finalized.
Final Thoughts on Dating Before Your Divorce is Final
Divorce may hurt in many ways. One of the main problems is that it can lower a person’s self-esteem. People may doubt their attractiveness, blame themselves for not being able to save the relationship, feel guilty for ruining the family, etc. It makes them vulnerable.
While in this state, people may swing from one extreme to another. Some immediately start a new relationship, trying to prove something to themselves or their ex. Often, they don’t even understand what exactly they want to prove.
Others, on the contrary, shrink into themselves and don’t talk to other people at all, fearing to take at least some step towards their new life.
That is why, before starting to move on and dating anyone, you first need to understand yourself and your true feelings. Analyze your previous relationships and think about whether you need new ones right now. Maybe you need first to get to know your new self and adapt to your new life.
If you feel that you are ready for such a step, but your divorce has not yet been officially completed, consider all the possible pitfalls of such a decision before making it.
We always do our best to eliminate divorce as a solution, yet because we do not live in a perfect world, we know there are times it is an option (sometimes it is the only option). If you are separated and in process of divorce, Natalie’s advice is important to follow. For more information on Natalie and how she can possibly help you navigate a new beginning after a painful divorce, click the link in her bio below.
- How Dating and Falling in Love Before Divorce Is Final Might Affect the Process?
- Talking About Kids
- Some Advice for Dating During Divorce
We have resources available to help you create the marriage you desire and deserve.
The Healthy Marriage Quiz
If you want specific help for your marriage, or you want to know your healthy marriage score, take the marriage quiz. You’ll get immediate access with suggestions on how to improve your relationship.
The Healthy Marriage Toolkit
Books, Courses, Programs, and Tools designed to help you create the marriage of your dreams.
Five Simple Steps Marriage Course
Marriage doesn’t have to be complicated. In this 5 part mini-series, you’ll discover practical steps to redesign your marriage.
Healthy Marriage Academy
Our courses will help you build a strong marriage. Each course is designed to meet a specific relationship need.
If you are having serious marriage struggles, we recommend starting with ‘Save the Marriage System‘ by Lee Baucom.